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Anesthesia – Side Effects

March 22, 2022


Side effects of anesthesia, especially serious side effects, are very rare and very based on the type of anesthetic administered, patients’ underlying medical conditions, type and length of surgery, and the age of the patient. Very common side effects after general anesthesia include nausea and vomiting, shivering, dizziness, and confusion. All of these side effects are usually temporary and can be treated. If you have a history of motion sickness or prior history of nausea after anesthesia, mention this to your surgeon anesthesiologist, so it can be pretreated, hopefully avoiding nausea, and vomiting altogether. Confusion especially, but also memory loss is another common side effect after general anesthesia. Confusion is very common, especially right after waking up from anesthesia, and can present in all age groups. This is usually temporary and resolves for most patients by the time they need to recovery room. That being said, older patients that have already some cognitive dysfunction, meaning baseline confusion or memory loss, may have worsening of the symptoms, at least temporary. And memory loss and confusion in this patient population might last for days after general anesthesia and can potentially be permanent in a very small number of patients.

Your anesthesiologist will discuss the possibility of these side effects with you prior to your surgery. And a plan will be made on how to best avoid these side effects.

Side effects after receiving anesthesia sedation are similar to the general anesthesia side effects. However, even much less likely due to the different medications used and nausea is almost never a problem. Side effects will be treated immediately by your anesthesiologist, and in case of nausea and vomiting will be pretreated to avoid this from the get-go, as it is a very common side effect after general anesthesia. If you do however experience side effects like nausea, confusion, shivering, or dizziness, once treated, they usually improve very quickly and are resolved by the time you leave the recovery room. Not everyone will experience side effects, every patient’s different. And whether someone will have side effects depends on many factors, including the type of procedure performed, length of procedure, age of patient, preexisting medical conditions and baseline mental status.

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