What is general anesthesia?

General Anesthesia
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General anesthesia in children: Overview

General anesthesia is medicine that causes your child to become unconscious. The medicine can be inhaled or injected into a vein. It affects the whole body.

It's used to keep your child from feeling pain during a procedure. Examples of procedures that use it include ear tube placement, hernia repair, and tonsil removal.

General anesthesia can affect some of the body's normal functions. For example, your child may need help to breathe. An anesthesia professional will watch your child very closely. They'll make sure your child stays safe and comfortable.

It's common for parents to worry about their child having anesthesia. Tell your doctor if you're worried. They can explain exactly how they will care for your child.

General anesthesia is very safe for most children. But some health conditions can increase the risk of problems. Your doctor will talk with you about your child's health and if there's anything that increases your child's risk.

General anesthesia

Anesthesia is a way to control pain using anesthetic medicine. General anesthesia, which can be injected into a vein or inhaled, affects the entire body and makes the person unconscious.

A person under general anesthesia is completely unaware of what is going on and does not feel pain during the surgery or procedure. Anesthesia interrupts the pain signals between a person's nerve endings and the brain. The health professional administering the anesthesia monitors the person's condition throughout the procedure.

How can you care for yourself after general anesthesia?


  • Don't do anything that requires attention to detail until you recover. This includes going to work or school, making important decisions, and signing any legal documents. It takes time for the medicine effects to completely wear off.
  • For at least 24 hours, do not drive or operate any machinery.
  • After the procedure, make sure to rest. Some people will feel drowsy or dizzy for up to a few hours after waking up.
  • Take your time, and move slowly. Sudden changes in position may cause nausea.
  • If you have sleep apnea and you have a CPAP machine, be sure to use it.


  • Don't drink alcohol for 24 hours.
  • You can eat your normal diet, unless your doctor gives you other instructions. If your stomach is upset, try clear liquids and bland, low-fat foods. For example, you can eat plain toast or rice.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (unless your doctor tells you not to).

How do you prepare your child for general anesthesia?

You will get a list of instructions to help you prepare. They will cover things like when your child needs to stop eating, drinking, or breastfeeding. If your child has a CPAP machine for sleep apnea, make sure they use it.

Your child's anesthesia specialist will tell you what to expect. They'll cover what happens when you get to the hospital, during the procedure, and after. And they will talk with you about the risks and benefits of anesthesia. If you have questions, be sure to ask.

Some children may be nervous before they have anesthesia or a procedure. It can help to calmly explain to your child what they can expect at the hospital. And let them pick out things to bring to the hospital that can help comfort them.

If your child still seems nervous, ask your doctor about ways to help your child relax. These may include relaxation exercises or medicine.

What are the risks of general anesthesia in children?

Anesthesia is very safe in healthy children. The most common reaction is nausea and vomiting afterward. Some health conditions can increase the risk for problems. Your doctor will talk with you about your child's risk. Rare but serious risks include breathing problems and reactions to the medicines used.

What is general anesthesia?

General anesthesia uses medicine that makes you unconscious. It affects your whole body. You will be completely unaware and not feel pain during the surgery or procedure. An anesthesia professional will watch you closely and keep you safe.

How is general anesthesia done?

General anesthesia medicine is often started through a needle in a vein (intravenous, or I.V.). It may also be inhaled.

An anesthesia specialist will adjust your medicines as needed. They will also closely watch your heartbeat, breathing, blood pressure, and other vital functions. A soft tube or other device in the back of your throat is usually used to give you an inhaled anesthetic and oxygen. It also helps to control and assist your breathing.

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