Anaesthetics and Anaesthesia

Anaesthesia is the loss of feeling or sensation with or without loss of consciousness. Anaesthetics are agents capable of producing this loss of sensation. It was only in the last century that the value of an anaesthetic as a means to performing painless surgery was realised. Ether and nitros oxide, or laughing gas, were only the early anaesthetics used and still are among the anaesthetics used in modern day surgery.

Anaesthesia can be either general with a loss of consciousness or regional where the patient remains conscious.


Before contemplating the use of general anaesthetic, your doctor should be aware of your previous medical history including a history of heart disease, blood pressure, liver disease, kidney disease, diabetes and allergic conditions. Your previous experience with anaesthetics is important with regard to allergic reactions, delayed awakening, heart and lung complications. Attention should be paid to any reaction you may have shown to drugs given either before or after previous operations. Your smoking habits should be discussed, particularly if you are a heavy smoker. If these questions are not asked, then make it your business to let the doctor giving the anaesthetic know when you are examined the day before your operation.

Pre-operative medication given to you before your anaesthetic is designed to relieve anxiety and provide sedation. It dries up your saliva and stomach juices in order to provide for a clear airway and to stop regurgitation of stomach contents. Allergic reactions can be prevented by suitable injections. Anaesthesia is often started by giving a drug into your veins. It is then maintained by the inhalation of gas through your mouth. the airway is maintained by use of a semi hard intubation tube down your throat, hence you may feel some minor discomfort in your throat after the operation. The intubation tube will also stop any gastric contents entering your lungs and producing post-operative pneumonitis, or lung inflammation.

Generally you will gain consciousness in your hospital bed. It is quite possible that you will have an intravenous drip feeding fluids and possibly blood back into your system. Your body will have become quite dehydrated during the operation and the may have been a loss of blood. Nausea, agitation and confusion may accompany your reawakening. Pain will be looked after by the use of a narcotic which may be included in intravenous drip. Any previous reaction to morphine, pethidine or any other pain killing drug should have been made known to your anaesthetist before the operation.

Instructions to be followed before receiving anaesthetic include not eating or drinking eight hours before surgery. If you undergo day surgery you should be accompanied by an adult as you leave hospital. Donít drive or make important decisions for 24 to 48 hours following surgery as your mental clarity may be impaired. Donít drink alcohol or use depressant drugs for a similar period.

- Anaemia - Anaesthetics and Anaesthesia
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- Asthma - Backache
- Blood Pressure including Hypertension - Boils and Carbuncles
- Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy - Chronic Bronchitis
- Cold Sores (Herpes Simplex) - Colostomy and Ileostomy
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- Glandular Fever (Infectious Mononucleosis) - Gout
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- Spinal Injuries - The Common Cold
- The Overactive Thyroid Gland - The Underactive Thyroid Gland
- Thrombophlebitis of Superficial Veins - Thrombosis in Veins
- Tonsillitis and Complications

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