Anesthesia is a term that refers to the partial or complete loss of sensation. Sometimes consciousness is lost during anesthesia while other times it is not. While anesthesia can be the result of an illness, the term is often used to refer to something administered by injection or inhalation to allow a doctor to perform a surgery or a test. Anesthesia is used when the surgery or procedure would be too painful for the patient to tolerate it. The body’s response to the pain without anesthesia could also prevent many types of surgery from being done.
It’s clear that anesthesia is an important part of a number of procedures, but there are different types of anesthesia. Which type you need depends on what kind of surgery you are having. Below are the three main types of anesthesia and how they feel:
1 ) General Anesthesia
General anesthesia is the type of anesthesia during which the patient loses consciousness, or “falls asleep.” General anesthesia consists of 4 stages, three of which a patient proceeds to go through during surgery. State 4 is an overdose and can lead to death. General anesthesia usually begins with an anesthetic being delivered through an I.V. into your arm. Sometimes it begins with a gas you breathe through a mask. Once you are asleep, an endotracheal tube might be inserted in your mouth and down your windpipe to ensure that you get enough oxygen. A patient of general anesthesia will have no awareness of memory of the surgery. The anesthesiologist will use a combination of medications to relieve anxiety, minimize pain during surgery, relieve pain afterward, keep you asleep, relax your muscles and block out the memory of the surgery.
2) Regional Anesthesia
For regional anesthesia, an anesthetic drug is injected close to a cluster of nerves, thus numbing a larger area of the body. One common example of this is an epidural, which numbs a woman giving birth below the waist. This method is typically used to make a person more comfortable during and after the surgery. It is not uncommon to combine regional and general anesthesia.
3) Local Anesthesia
Local anesthesia is a process in which an anesthetic drug numbs only a small, specific part of the body. Some example would be a hand, a foot or a patch of skin. The anesthetic drug can be administered in the form of a shot, ointment or spray. In this process, a person is awake or sedated, depending on what is necessary. Local anesthesia only lasts for a short period of time. It is typically used for outpatient procedures. The medicine can also be used to numb the area for a short time after the procedure to help control the patient’s discomfort post-surgery.
Anesthesia is an important part of surgery and other medical procedures. Depending on what you are having done, you will need to consult your doctor about what kind of anesthesia is necessary. One thing is for sure, you’ll definitely be thankful for anesthesia.