Anesthesia is safe for most patients, but it can cause dangerous after effects in some individuals. It also often causes minor after effects that irritating or uncomfortable. The most common after effects of anesthesia include fatigue, muscle aches, sore throat, nausea, and cognitive problems. More serious concerns include allergic reactions, changes in blood pressure, and breathing problems. Patients who will be undergoing surgery should discuss their questions and concerns about anesthesia prior to the procedures if possible.
General anesthesia is commonly used for many surgical procedures. This type of anesthesia makes the patient unconscious during the procedure. Fatigue is one of the most common after effects of anesthesia of this type, since it often takes several hours for the anesthesia to wear off completely. Muscle aches are also common due to medications given with anesthesia to keep the patient immobile during surgery.
During surgery with general anesthesia, patients are unable to breathe on their own. Surgeons typically insert endotracheal tubes in patients' throats to prevent aspiration while they are under anesthesia. When the tube is removed after surgery, it can cause a sore throat that may persist for several days.
Nausea is another one of the common after effects of anesthesia. Administering certain medications to patients who have not eaten can irritate the stomach, but post-operative nausea usually subsides quickly. Many patients receive anti-nausea medications after surgery to minimize this after effect.
Another one of the after effects of anesthesia is difficulty concentrating and keeping attention focused. Anesthesia may have lingering after effects on the brain that contribute to these problems. Elderly patients are more likely to experience cognitive decline following surgery, but the problems usually go away within a few weeks.
Some patients experience severe allergic reactions to anesthesia, which can increase the heart rate to dangerous levels and contribute to breathing problems. Emergency care is necessary for patients who have an allergic reaction to anesthesia, so vital signs are monitored carefully during surgical procedures. Blood pressure changes may also occur in individuals who are allergic or particularly sensitive to anesthesia.
High doses of local anesthesia can be absorbed into the bloodstream and create a toxic reaction, which may affect heart rate and breathing. Patients who receive large amounts of topical anesthetics for emergency procedures are monitored closely and given medications to stabilize their vital signs if necessary. Regional anesthesia injected near a nerve causes numbness and tingling, which may be persistent in rare cases. If regional anesthesia causes pain, weakness, or numbness that does not go away, the patient may need to see a nerve specialist for treatment.