What Are the Common Side Effects and Potential Complications of Anesthesia?
For those of you who have to undergo a surgical procedure or who have a pending surgery booked, one thing you would probably be interested in know are the potential complications of anesthesia.
This is a very frequent consequence of anesthesia, occurring in approximately 30% of cases. Nausea is more frequently characteristic for the general than regional anesthesia. Here are some tips that will help you reduce the risk of nausea:
- You should not be active within the first hours after the operation – do not sit down and get out of bed;
- Avoid drinking water and taking food immediately after surgery;
- Good pain relief is also important because pain can cause nausea, so if you have pain, tell the medical staff;
- To reduce nausea, breathe deeply, inhale the air slowly.
The magnitude of it can range from discomfort to severe constant pain, which disturbs you when speaking or swallowing. You may also feel dryness in mouth. These symptoms may take a few hours after surgery, but they can remain for two days in some cases. If, within two days after the operation, the above symptoms do not pass, then contact your family doctor. Sore throat is only consequence and not a complication of anesthesia.
Shivering, which is another consequence of anesthesia, is a particular problem for patients as it causes them great discomfort, but often does not provide any danger to the body and lasts about 20-30 minutes. Tremors can happen after general anesthesia and be a complication of epidural or spinal anesthesia. You will be able to reduce some risk of tremor, if you keep your body warm before surgery. Think also about some warm things beforehand. Remember that the hospital could be cooler than your home.
Dizziness and presyncope
The residual effect of anesthetic agents may be manifested in the form of a certain reduction of blood pressure, in addition, the same effect can result in dehydration, which is not so uncommon after surgery. Law pressure can cause dizziness, weakness, presyncope.
There are many reasons that can cause headaches. These are medications used for anesthesia, the surgery itself, dehydration and even nervousness of a patient. The most common headache appears a few hours after anesthesia alone or after administration of anesthetic drugs. Severe headache may be a complication of spinal anesthesia and epidural anesthesia.
Usually itching is a side reaction to the anesthetic drugs (e.g. morphine), but it can also be a manifestation of an allergic reaction and, therefore, you should always inform your doctor about such problem. Many patients notice an itchy sensation around their nose.
Back and lower back pain
During surgery, the patient lies in a fixed position on a hard operating table for quite a long time, which can lead to back “fatigue” and, eventually, to the appearance of postoperative pain.
Pain in the muscles
The most common muscle pain after anesthesia occurs in young males, the cause most frequently is associated with the anesthetic drug called ditilin, used commonly in emergency surgery, as well as situations where the patient’s stomach is not free from food. Pain in the muscles is a consequence of anesthesia (general anesthesia), it is symmetrical, often located in the neck, shoulders, upper abdomen and lasts about 2-3 days after surgery.
Some patients, usually elderly people, after surgery and anesthesia feel mental confusion. Their memory may deteriorate, and the behavior may be different from the usual one. This can greatly disturb you, your family, friends and loved ones. However, these effects should disappear, along with the patient’s recovery from surgery.
To reduce the possibility of mental confusion after anesthesia, follow some recommendations:
- Try to be hospitalized as healthy as possible, eat healthy food, do physical exercises;
- Talk to your anesthesiologist about the possibility of surgery under regional anesthesia;
- If your operation is not large in volume and you do not live alone at home, discuss with your surgeon the possibility of an early return back home;
- Make sure that you have not forgotten to take your contact lenses and hearing aids to the hospital;
- Continue to take your usual home medications, if you doctor doesn’t have some specific requirements;
If you drink alcohol, you should consult with your doctor about how to safely reduce and then completely stop taking it. At the hospital, you should also tell your doctor how much alcohol you drink.