Before your procedure, your anaesthetist will discuss a number of things with you including:
- The types of anaesthetic appropriate for the procedure you are having
- Any risks or side effects associated with different types of anaesthetics
They will also plan the anaesthetic and pain control with you, taking into account any preferences or allergies you might have for a particular type of medication.
You should ask your anaesthetist to clarify anything you are unsure about and raise any queries you might have.
How Anaesthetics work
Anaesthetics induce unconsciousness by blocking sensations travelling through nerves in the brain. During this state, procedures can be carried out safely without the patient being aware or feeling any pain. The patient then regains consciousness when the anaesthetics are worn off.
A general anaesthetic can be given in the form of an injection into a vein or through a gas which is breathed in. Alternatively, local anaesthetics can be applied to specific parts of the body, such as spinal anaesthesia, epidural anaesthesia or using a ‘nerve block’ to numb a limb, avoiding the need for general anaesthesia.
The type of anaesthesia you have depends on:
- The operation you are having
- Any preexisting health problems
- Your preferences
- The anaesthesia equipment available in the hospital
Your anaesthetist will tell you about any side effects you may experience after having a specific type of anaesthetic.
Some of the common side effects that can occur after having a general anaesthetic and some regional anaesthetics include:
- Feeling sick or vomiting
- Dizziness and feeling faint
- Feeling cold or shivering
- Sore throat because of the breathing tube
- Difficulty passing urine
- Aches and pains
These are usually short-term and pass quickly, and some can be treated if necessary. You should tell the healthcare professionals treating you if you experience any of the above side effects or if you are in pain after your procedure.
Anaesthesia and risk
Your team will discuss the risks and complications associated with anaesthesia, and assess your individual needs and medical history. This pre-assessment will help us to plan your care and plan how to manage any side effects you may experience.