The side effects of general anesthesia are not that familiar to people, but it is necessary for you to know them before you agree on the procedure. Learn everything!

General anesthesia uses a combination of medications to induce patients into a state of unconsciousness. Its main objective is to facilitate surgical interventions.

General anesthesia is a medical procedure used simultaneously with surgery. It can even be said that it makes the surgery easier to carry out. For this, a combination of drugs is used that induce a state of unconsciousness, similar to sleep.

This state is induced before surgery, is maintained during the operation, and lasts slightly longer than the procedure. Specifically, it has several objectives; one of them is to prevent the patient from suffering pain during the intervention. On the other hand, it is intended to facilitate the surgeon’s work. For this, there is muscle relaxation and control of breathing and vital signs.

Its mode of application is intravenous or, sometimes, with the combination of inhaled anesthetic gases. When is it necessary? What risks does it cause? Regarding its use there are several doubts. For this reason, we will tell you more about it below.

Why is general anesthesia necessary?

Before surgery, the anesthesiologist – in conjunction with the surgeon – will recommend the best anesthesia option. This choice will depend on the type of surgery to be performed and the general health of the patient.

In some cases, doctors may use other techniques, including sedation, without being general anesthesia. However, the latter is necessary for certain procedures, such as those with the following characteristics:

  • They last several hours.
  • Without anesthesia they would be too painful.
  • They can produce anxiety or psychological impact.
  • There may be considerable blood loss.
  • The cold in the operating room can affect the patient.
  • They require control of breathing (chest or upper abdominal surgery).

Factors doctors consider before general anesthesia

The anesthesiologist is the doctor in charge of evaluating the patient. This is to find out if a person’s health history or treatments might interfere with general anesthesia.

To do this, the professional asks a series of questions, beyond the health problem that is motivating the surgery. It is very important that medical history and family history are addressed without omitting the following health details:

  • Treatments or medications that are taken regularly. It includes the consumption of vitamin supplements or medicinal plants.
  • Previous surgeries.
  • Blood transfusions.
  • Known allergies to foods, medications, products such as latex, among others.
  • Consumption of tobacco, alcoholic beverages or drugs.
  • Recent infections, particularly of the respiratory tract.
  • Probability of being pregnant.

This information will help the anesthesiologist choose the anesthetics that are safest for you.

Risks and side effects of general anesthesia

In most cases, general anesthesia is safe. However, there are certain risks among older adults and people with serious medical problems or who require invasive medical procedures. However, the risks are more likely to be from the surgery itself, rather than from the anesthesia.

After the intervention, it is normal to feel general discomfort or pain. Therefore, it is necessary to determine if a particular symptom is due to the operation or anesthesia. After the surgical procedure is complete, the symptoms may be as follows:

  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Muscle pains.
  • Sore throat (caused by placing a tube in the windpipe to breathe).
  • Chills and hypothermia (feeling cold).
  • Confusion or disorientation.

These side effects are usually not serious and doctors manage them in the recovery room. Most are transitory and resolve in a short time.

How to prepare for a general anesthesia?

First of all, the surgeon usually talks with the patient to explain the procedure. In the same way, the anesthesiologist will clarify all the related doubts. This part is relevant, since it reduces the anxiety the intervention generates. Next, we detail the most important points of the process.


Try to follow all the indications of the doctors, especially the fasting time that they have indicated. In certain cases, you can moisten your mouth with water, but it is extremely important to get to the operating room fasting.

The doctor will tell you from when you should stop some of the medications you take. For example, you have to stop taking aspirin for a week before the procedure. This indication also applies to vitamin supplements and herbalists.


From a few minutes before starting the surgery, the anesthesiologist will take care of the anesthesia and your vital signs. Very often, doctors initiate the sedation through the intravenous line in the arm or wrist. You can also apply an anesthetic gas through a face mask.

Today, the process of a general anesthesia is, as most anesthesiologists say, a safe event. During surgery, the anesthesiologist attends, above all else, to the safety of the patient.


At the conclusion of the surgery, the anesthesiologist applies the medication to reverse the anesthesia. This is with the intention of the patient waking up slowly, usually in the recovery room. It is normal to feel a little light-headed and confused when opening your eyes. The person is also likely to have a dry mouth and a desire to sleep.

Upon awakening from anesthesia, and depending on the type of surgery, you may experience pain or other symptoms. If so, it is necessary to report it to the recovery room staff to receive the appropriate treatment to alleviate it.

What to remember about the side effects of general anesthesia?

It is normal to feel anxious before a surgical procedure that involves general anesthesia. Still, keep in mind that it is currently considered safe in almost all cases. Medications, equipment, and safety standards make this possible.

Therefore, most people do not have complications during or after receiving this type of anesthesia. Contrary to this, their quality of life improves after the intervention.

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