Insider’s Guide to General Anesthesia Side Effects

| July 31, 2013 | 309 Comments

If you, or a loved one, are scheduled for surgery and you are wondering about the risks and side effects of general anesthesia, this article is for you.

Don’t worry. You probably won’t wake up looking like this guy!

Undergoing general anesthesia can be a source of anxiety for many people. Some of the concerns are valid; many are not.

In this post we’ll discuss these risks and side effects. While it’s not possible to include every possible side effect, we will address the most common and most serious ones.

Sore Throat

This is one of the more common side effects. While asleep, you will likely have an airway device placed to assist your breathing. Your anesthesiologist may use a LMA (laryngeal mask airway), which is a tear-drop shaped, inflatable device that sits in your throat. It has an opening that allows oxygen and anesthesia gases to flow into your windpipe and lungs as you breathe.

Alternatively, an endotracheal tube may be placed through your vocal cords and into your windpipe to more securely protect your airway (from gastric aspiration) and allow for more control of your breathing during the procedure. Your anesthesiologist will decide which device is more appropriate for you depending on your medical profile and type of surgery.

It is the placement of one of these devices that may cause you to have a sore throat once you wake up from surgery and the device is removed.

Your throat may also feel a little scratchy if it is dry when waking up from anesthesia. This was my personal experience.

When I was still in the military, the Navy required that my wisdom teeth be removed prior to my deployment to Iraq. Because I was removing all four teeth at the same time and there was some indication that it may be a tedious and prolonged procedure, I had it done under general anesthesia (and my breathing tube was placed through my nose to give my surgeons greater room to work in my mouth).

My first memories coming out of anesthesia were in the recovery room, and I remember my throat hurting being the biggest discomfort at that time. But the reason it was so uncomfortable was that it was very dry. My surgeons most likely placed a “throat pack” to keep any bleeding from traveling further down. After this was removed at the end of the case, it left my throat feeling parched. As I woke up some more in the PACU (post anesthesia care unit), my nurse gave me some ice with which I could wet my throat and the feeling went away.

Here’s what an LMA looks like (when it’s in a good mood).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PONV (Post Operative Nausea/Vomiting)

This is one of the more common side effects of general anesthesia. There are several risk factors that make people more likely to have this bad experience.

Some of the risks are related to the patient:

  • Female gender
  • Younger patient
  • Non-smoker
  • History of Motion Sickness
  • History of previous PONV

Some are related to the surgery itself:

  • Longer surgery (risk goes up after about an hour)
  • Surgery type: Eye, ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat), Breast, Urologic, Laparoscopic
  • That list isn’t necessarily complete, even though it seems to include just about everything

Anesthesia related risk factors:

  • Increased use of narcotic and anesthesia gases (inhaled anesthetics). This is sometimes unavoidable.

Have a conversation with your anesthesiologist about PONV prior to heading back for surgery, especially if you are at higher risk. There are several anti-nausea medicines that he/she may give you to combat this problem. If you are at very high risk, they may even alter their anesthetic technique.

Finally, we try to properly hydrate you during surgery through administration of IV fluids. One of the benefits is it helps with PONV. But this option may be limited depending on your medical profile (for example, we have to be careful with fluid administration in a patient with congestive heart failure, or a dialysis patient) and the type of surgery.

Post Anesthesia Confusion & Cognition

Most people wake up from anesthesia with some amount of disorientation or confusion. It takes some time for the brain to fully “wake up”, even after they regain consciousness. For most, this period lasts about 10 to 15 minutes and isn’t all that remarkable.

A smaller subset of patients may experience emergence delirium (or emergence agitation). This is described as a dissociated state of consciousness where the patient may be uncooperative or combative, often thrashing, or crying, or trying to get up and off the OR table. This is concerning because we don’t want the patient hurting themselves, others, or affecting the surgical site.

Pediatric patients and young adults are at higher risk for waking up agitated like this. Among the adults, men with military or law enforcement experience seem to be most likely to wake up in fight mode. Anecdotally, I saw more of this when I was a Navy anesthesiologist taking care of young soldiers with overseas war experience (and perhaps some underlying post traumatic stress disorder).

Most often, patients can be “talked down” as I remind them where they are, that they are waking up from surgery, and I don’t want them to hurt themselves. I also have meds available, if this is not effective and the patient’s safety is in jeopardy. I have taken some punches from patients waking up and it’s not fun (especially if they are strapping Marines), but all of us that work in this field realize it is not intentional.

An area of increasing interest and research is postoperative cognitive decline (POCD). This describes a decline in several neuropsychologic categories, such as memory, executive function, and brain processing speed. The concern is that these deficits can last days, weeks, or even longer.

There is still much research left to be done but risk seems to be higher in the elderly, those with lower education level, those with a history of previous cognitive dysfunction, and those with a history of depression or substance abuse. Interestingly, POCD does not seem to occur with higher frequency in those having general anesthesia (as opposed to other types of anesthesia). This suggests that the typical stresses of surgery, and the body’s ability to recover from that, may play a significant role here. Lots of research is still needed.

Damage to Lips or Teeth

This is a very rare complication that may occur with the placement of your breathing tube. In placing this tube, once you are fully asleep, your anesthesiologist will place a laryngoscope blade in your mouth, displace your tongue and soft tissue, and visually place the breathing tube past your vocal cords and into your windpipe.

If you have more challenging anatomy, this visualization may be more difficult and increase the chances of damage. Also, make sure to tell your provider if you have any loose teeth. If dislodged, teeth can travel into your windpipe, affect your breathing, and possibly cause an infection.

Here’s what this process looks like (on a dummy, on the floor):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reactions to Meds or Anesthetics

It’s always possible to have a reaction to any of the IV or inhaled medicines used while under anesthesia. This is why we take a detailed history of any medicines/foods/products that you are allergic to and note what types of medicines you are taking regularly (including herbal meds).

Severe, anaphylactic type reactions are pretty rare. Though we do everything possible to avoid allergic reactions, we are watching you very closely throughout your procedure and are ready to treat any adverse reaction.

End Organ Effects

This refers to the effect that anesthesia can have on all your major organs including your heart, brain, liver, and kidneys. These major types of complications such as heart attack, stroke, and yes even death, are very rare for patients that are healthy. Anesthetics can affect things like your heart rate and blood pressure, so we have standards for monitoring patients to ensure those organs are being properly perfused during surgery.

If you have significant disease in one or more of these “end organs” or if you are having a more complex surgery, your anesthesiologist may ask for more advanced studies that tell us more accurately how “healthy” those organs are.

We may also decide to place some more sophisticated monitoring. This can aid us in more closely monitoring you during surgery and even help in delivering any treatment that may be necessary (IV fluids, blood products, medication infusions, etc). These extra monitors include arterial lines, central lines, pulmonary artery catheters, and/or transesophageal echo’s. The last two are more often used in major heart or lung surgery.

We don’t take the placement of these advanced monitors lightly and only do it if they will be beneficial in taking care of you. Often, most if not all of them can be placed after you are asleep. And you will wake up with them in place.

This last part can be very scary for people to think about. But the overall take home message is that for relatively healthy people anesthesia is very safe. And the more severe complications, fortunately, are very rare.

Your anesthesiologist has gone through four years of medical school training and then four years of residency to gain the knowledge, skill, and judgement to guide you through this stressful time as safely as possible.

Now it’s your turn. Let us know what you think.

If you still have some unanswered questions on this topic, leave it in the comments section below. I’ll do my best to answer in a timely manner.

And if you’ve had anesthesia in the past, let us know what your experience was like.

Or, if you’d like to get the whole group involved, head over to the forum and post your question there. I hope this information was helpful.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Dr Dave & Dr Joe

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Category: Day of surgery, General Anesthesia

Comments (309)

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  1. site says:

    A insightful post right there mate ! Cheers for it !

    • Frank james says:

      My pulse rate has gone very low after I underwent surgery on my back recently. Could this be a side effect of anaesthetics and is it permanent(how long before the drugs used are finally flushed from my body?

      • DrJoe says:

        Hi Frank,

        Sorry to hear about your low pulse rate. How many days ago was your surgery? It would be unlikely for your low pulse rate to be a result of anesthesia medicines still circulating in your body. Even if your surgery lasted several hours, I would expect the anesthesia medicines to have worn off by the following day.

        I would evaluate what oral medicines you are taking now. It is possible that one of these may have a side effect of bradycardia.

        If you are experiencing any shortness of breath, chest pain, or lightheadedness, I would go to the emergency room. These could be signs that something serious is causing a slower pulse.

        Thanks for your question. I hope you feel better soon.

    • Hi just got a question, I am going to be having a tumor removed from my spinal cord at L4′ my surgeon said it might take 4 hours to remove. I was told that after surgery I would go right back to the ward, not icu, so why when a friend of mine had some of his neck bone removed in. 1:30 hour surgery did he spend 2 days in icu, which he says felt like hell. I am very scared of GA.

      • Louisa,

        I apologize for taking so long to get back to you. We appreciate your question.

        Everyone responds to general anesthesia differently. And is pretty normal to be anxious about undergoing anesthesia.

        In your friend’s case, it is hard to say why they spent 2 days in the ICU without knowing more details.

        If you are scared of anesthesia, my first suggestion is to check out this post for some tips. And I would also talk to other friends and family members that have undergone surgery and anesthesia for further help.

        Let us know how your surgery goes…..

    • Hillary says:

      I’m getting my wisdom teeth out under general anesthesia in a couple months (I was going to do local but I freaked out..) and I’m TERRIFIED that I’ll have an allergic reaction to the anesthetic or that I won’t wake up. I know it’s irrational (I’m a healthy 16 year old girl), but what are the chances of those happening?

      • David Draghinas says:

        Hillary,

        Thanks for posting your comment.

        I can tell you that for most healthy, young people anesthesia is very safe. Having any kind of serious issue with the anesthesia, including a severe allergic reaction, is very rare.

        What I would suggest is to let your anesthesiologist (and all other staff taking care of you) know that you are very nervous. They will take some extra steps to try to make you as comfortable as possible.

        Where are you having your procedure done? Is it going to be in a dentist’s office, a hospital, or some place else?

        We are keeping you in our thoughts and prayers to have a safe and smooth experience.

        Dr. Dave

  2. Cecilia says:

    last fall I had 8 hrs of surgery to repair a hernia, I can only remember very few events in the 9 days that I was hospitalized I was told that I said and did some crazy stuff,my memory loss continued for about 4 months and still I said and did more crazy stuff. I couldn’t write or do simple math for a long long time but the strangest side effect of the anesthesia was that I had no pain whatsoever at the sight of the surgery.There was a long incesion made and muscle tissue moved and removed and I don’t understand all the complications from the anesthesia.

    • Dr Dave says:

      Cecilia,

      Sounds like you had quite the experience. Glad to hear that, at the very least, your pain was well controlled.

      An 8 hour surgery is quite a lot to recover from. Wish you all the best going forward.

      Dr. Dave

      • Laura says:

        Dr. Dave,

        My father just had abdominal surgery similar to Cecilia’s in length and complexity. He, too, had no pain at the surgery site. Is that common?

        Now, two weeks later, he’s having pain. How likely is it that the anesthesia drugs prevented pain for two weeks after the surgery?

        Many thanks for your time and this site!

        Laura

        • Dr Dave says:

          Laura,

          Many surgeons will infiltrate local anesthesia at the site of the surgical incision at the end of the case. This, along with IV pain medicine given by your anesthesiologist, can provide significant pain relief for a few hours to the first day or so after surgery.

          That your father is experiencing pain two weeks later, all of a sudden, seems out of the ordinary (unless he recently stopped taking pain medicines, perhaps). I am assuming the pain is related to the surgical site and location of the procedure.

          Letting his doctor know is a good idea. He/she will be best equipped to triage the symptoms to determine if this is something significant or a normal part of the recovery process.

          One of the things to consider is the possibility of infection at the surgical site. Signs of infection include a fever, and/or pus, redness, heat, pain/tenderness at the incision site. He should definitely let his doctor know if he is experiencing these symptoms.

          Hope your dad pulls through and is feeling better soon.

          Dr. Dave

  3. Nick says:

    Hi Dave,

    I am going in for a shoulder operation in 7 days time, I’m 38, I am not overweight and fairly fit and I exercise regularly for the past 4 years. Sometimes I get a slight pain in my chest around the lower pectoral, just above the top of my ribcage, there’s no radiation of pain to my left arm, neck or jaw and it does not happen during cardio. Just at random times, sometimes when I’m sitting or standing, and then it goes away. I went to get checked out at hospital about 12 months ago and they did all the tests and were pretty sure it wasn’t heart related and could be some kind of muscular costio condroititis. Im quite fit but I did used to smoke.
    My question is could this pose a risk to going under anesthetic if there was perhaps a problem with my heart?

    Thanks
    Nick

    • DrJoe says:

      Nick,

      Thanks so much for posing your question to us!  First of all, let me congratulate you on your attention to your health.  

      But on to your question and for the good news.  The description of your chest pain is not typical of heart related pain.  In addition, the fact that you had normal test results 12 months ago is also reassuring and makes a cardiac cause less likely.  But that does not mean that your chest pain should be ignored or that it is unimportant.  

      There are many causes of chest pain, one of which is coronary artery disease.  As you know, there are many known risk factors for coronary artery disease.  The ones that are potentially controllable are obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, stress, smoking, high blood pressure, lack of physical activity, and an unhealthy diet.  Other risk factors that are uncontrollable are gender, age, and family history of coronary artery disease.

      In answer to your question, if there was a problem with your heart, it could pose an increased risk to undergoing a general anesthetic.  From your story though, it seems less likely that your pain is related to your heart.  If your operation is in 7 days, I would recommend calling your primary physician (or establishing a relationship with one) and getting an appointment this week.  This physician can review your symptoms, risk factors, medical history, blood work, and EKG.  If anything, this can give you further reassurance that your heart is healthy for the operation and that you are not at increased risk for complications from anesthesia.  Of course, if anything is concerning, your primary physician may choose to order further testing.

      I hope everything turns out well for you.  Please keep us updated and let us know what your anesthesia experience was like.  

      Stay healthy,
      Dr. Joe 

      • Nick says:

        Ok Joe thanks so much for your reply, can I ask you one more question on that. If it were some kind of coronary artery disease, what would be the normal coarse of action to combat this?( My diet could be healthier I must say) And yes I will let you know how I go next Tuesday…Ive never had an operation before so this is why I’m a bit spooked by it all :)

        Nick

        • DrJoe says:

          Nick,

          I would recommend visiting with a primary care physician if you haven’t done so already. Ask around at work or among your friends to see if they have a physician that they trust. And because you are motivated to improve your health, this physician will guide you to a healthier life.

          There are modifiable risk factors for coronary artery disease and your physician will help you with this. For instance, if your blood pressure is elevated or your cholesterol is abnormal, perhaps medicine is appropriate (in addition to a healthy diet and regular exercise).

          But family history of coronary artery disease does play a role and you can’t change this. My dad had a severe heart attack at 52 despite regular exercise, no smoking history, and normal blood pressure. Heart disease just runs in my family’s genes.

          If this is the case for you, I would recommend establishing a primary care physician even more. They are the experts at knowing which therapies to use, what types of tests are in order, and when a specialist needs to be seen (I am preaching to myself here too).

          Plus, you may receive reassurance that you are doing the right things to keep your heart healthy.

          By the way, what type of shoulder surgery are you having? Let us know how it goes.

          Dr Joe

          • Nick says:

            Ok Joe I will take on board what you have just told me…thank you again pointing out that information. The type of surgery I’m having is my subscapularis tendon has torn and needs to be reattached to the bone, also the long head bicep tendon is subluxed, so I’m having tenodesis done on that. Im not sure of the success rate at these operations, but I’m hoping for the best.
            If you can shed some light or give me some tips on this that would be great too :)

            Thanks heaps Dr Joe

            • DrJoe says:

              Nick,

              Thanks for letting me know the type of surgery you are having. Sometimes for shoulder surgery, a “nerve block” is performed by the anesthesiologist. This involves placing numbing medicine near your shoulder to anesthetize the nerves that provide sensation to your shoulder. And this is usually done in addition to general anesthesia.

              The numbing medicine can last for 24 hours or more and can significantly decrease the amount of post operative pain. In some instances, a tiny catheter is placed under the skin of your shoulder to continuously supply numbing medicine to the area. This is called a continuous nerve block.

              Your orthopedic surgeon will be the one to decide whether a nerve block would be beneficial for you. If so, the anesthesiologist will discuss the risks and benefits with you. I just wanted to make you aware that a nerve block may be offered to you on Tuesday.

              Let us know how it goes on Tuesday!

  4. julie says:

    I have a very unusual question about anesthesia. A friend of mine recently underwent a visectomy. He was put under and during that procedure the doctor also performed an exploratory of his prostate. The exploratory was performed because he had urinated blood. Ever since his surgery several months ago he suffers from impotence. He is on medication for hyperactivity. My question is could the anesthesia be the cause of his impotence as it could affect brain function as well as other organs. If so, is there anything he can he do about it. He has been to the doctor for his follow-up, but the doctor seems to be at a loss for an explanation. Oh yeah, his prostate was fine.

    • Dr Dave says:

      Hi Julie,

      It would be very unusual for general anesthesia to be the cause of the impotence. I’ve never heard of that happening (as a result of anesthesia) in all my years taking care of patients.

      From the limited information I have, this sounds more likely to be related to either a pre-existing prostate issue, or possibly to the “prostate surgery” that occurred. Erectile dysfunction is a well-known complication of prostate surgery. The area surrounding the prostate is rich with nerves that function to allow a man to have an erection. If they are damaged, problems such as erectile dysfunction can occur.

      Dr. Dave

  5. jennifer says:

    I recently had a Tympanoplasty and mastoidectomy for a cholesteatoma. I woke up extremely dizzy and threw up alot and a week later I am still constantly dizzy. It took me hours to fully wake up and I have had surgeries in the past and didn’t have this problem. It kinda scared me. Why would it take so long? I am in good health.

    • Dr Dave says:

      Jennifer,

      I’m sorry to hear you continue to suffer a week after surgery.

      The symptoms you describe are more likely due to the effects of the cholesteatoma and/or the extent of the surgery. I would definitely speak with the ENT surgeon to get his/her take on that.

      As you know, the inner ear contains the vestibular system, which helps us with our sense of balance and spatial orientation. When this system is impaired in some way, people can experience dizziness, nausea/vomiting, a sense of imbalance, etc. General anesthesia can also cause nausea/vomiting in the immediate post-operative period. But with your symptoms this far out from surgery, it sounds like your nausea/vomiting may be a result of the dizziness.

      I would consider talking to the surgeon about the extent of damage from the cholesteatoma, what exactly was done in surgery, and if she/he can account for the symptoms you are experiencing.

      Hope this information helps.

      Dr. Dave

  6. mandy says:

    Dr. Dave,
    I had a c-section about 3 weeks ago with a spinal block but had to go back into the OR for emergency exploratory surgery about 12 hours post ceasar. I was under general anesthesia for about 2 1/2 hours I am told for the exploratory surgery. My biggest complaint is that I have itched everywhere on my body since and can’t seem to find anythings to make it stop. The only medication I have been taken regularly upon my discharge is Motrin 800mg. Could the itching me caused by the surgeries and what could be done to make it stop.
    Thanks,
    Mandy

    • Dr Dave says:

      Mandy,

      Thanks for your question.

      My initial thought when you mentioned having a spinal, followed by itching, is that you received duramorph (morphine) in your spinal. This works very well to control post-operative pain after c-section, but itching is one of its side effects. But these effects typically last for about 24 hours, and you mentioned you are 3 weeks out from surgery.

      Narcotic pain medicines (eg. Vicodin) can also cause itching. But again, you mentioned you are not taking much more than Motrin.

      Itching can have many causes, among these are: reactions to medications, skin conditions and rashes, internal diseases (eg. liver disease, kidney failure, anemia), irritations and allergic reactions to various substances, etc.

      From the information given, it’s impossible to pinpoint where the issue is for you. But it sounds like this is debilitating enough that you should see your doctor.

      If you have no contraindication to them, anti-histamines such as Benadryl may help alleviate some of your symptoms until you are able to get to the bottom of this. Remember that Benadryl will make you drowsy, so be careful if and when you take it.

      Hope this helps, and let us know if you figure out what caused the itching.

      Dr. Dave

  7. Josie says:

    I am in my 40s and had surgery (one hour) on 8/15 (This is third surgery in 3.5 years). It’s now 8/26. I was presented with basic Math yesterday in a social setting and was completely incapable of processing the Math. I later replayed it in my head and could figure it out – but at the time literally could not do basic Math (I mean could not process it at all). This has never happened before. Wondering if it could be residual anesthesia related? I also today completely forgot where I had left something that I had just literally used. I didn’t even realize I did not have it with me until I later went to use it. I utterly was blanking. This has happened a few times since the surgery. (I know it’s common to forget where you put things at times, but this was different; I mean I was completely blanking) Is all of the above common and when do the above things wear off (assuming associated with anesthesia)? Thank you!

    • DrJoe says:

      Josie,

      Sorry it has taken a bit to respond to your question. I am sure you are a little scared about having these cloudy episodes.

      What type of surgery did you have? Have you ever had any neurologic troubles before? These would be questions I would want to know.

      However, it would be very unlikely for the anesthesia you received to be the cause of your forgetfulness and difficulty processing things. Some people will say that they feel back to normal later in the day after receiving anesthesia. Others have told me that it took them several days to feel completely fine after anesthesia.

      So it just varies. But barring any underlying medical conditions that you may have and the severity of your surgery, your situation is not common after general anesthesia.

      I would recommend a visit with your primary care physician. He or she can completely investigate your medical history, listen to your symptoms, perform a physical exam, and possibly order testing if you continue to experience these episodes.

      I am sorry you are going through this. Let us know what happens.

      Dr Joe

  8. Nicole says:

    Im 25 years old I had a laporscopic tubal ligation done august 31st. This was my first surgery, first time going under. I feel like the chest pain is lasting longer then it should. I’ll be honest & say i had 3 cigarettes the day after surgery & 1 yesterday. I know this plays a part. Im continuing to quit smoking as i was before surgery. Also I find myself winded or short or short of breath doing my daily routine.

    • DrJoe says:

      Nicole,

      Thanks for your question. Sorry to hear you are having discomfort.

      Unless you experienced chest pain prior to your laparoscopic case, it is abnormal for you have chest pain 5 days after this type of surgery. If you are still having chest pains, I would let your surgeon know about this as soon as possible. He or she will have a better idea of why you may be having chest pain.

      Sometimes patients will experience shoulder pain after laparoscopic surgery. This is due to the irritation of the diaphragm muscle in the abdomen from the gas used to distend the abdomen. It usually resolves soon after surgery, though.

      It is not common to have chest pain after a laparoscopic tubal ligation. Hopefully, it has resolved by this point. If it has not gone away, further action needs to be taken to figure out the cause and treatment.

      By the way, I congratulate you on your efforts to quit smoking!

      Hope this helps,

      Dr. Joe

  9. Tracey says:

    I am about to undergo Deep Brain Stimulation and have been told that i will be under a general anaesthetic for approx 8 hours. I am overweight and am worried about whether my body will handle the extended surgery and anaesthetic

    • Dr Dave says:

      Hi Tracy,

      Deep Brain Stimulator placement is often a 2 stage procedure.

      The first stage is typically done under a combination of local anesthesia and IV sedation. First, a “stereotactic frame” is placed on the head. An MRI is then performed (the frame & MRI will help the neurosurgeon pinpoint the proper area to place electrodes in the deeper parts of the brain).

      During the process of placing the electrodes in the brain, you will likely be under some form of sedation. You are usually not under general anesthesia (at least not throughout the procedure) because the surgeon often asks for your input. Sometimes, a neurophysiologist is also present and the patient is asked to move their arm (or may be asked for other input regarding what he/she is sensing).

      This process can take some time as the surgeon is very meticulous about exactly where to place the electrode. If both sides are done, this can take in the range of 8 hrs. And it can be “tiring” for the patient (because they are not under general anesthesia for the entirety of the case).

      I have been in cases where the surgeon gives the patient the option, after the first electrode is placed, if they want to delay the second one for another day or continue.

      The second stage of the operation usually involves a general anesthetic. Here, a pouch is created underneath the skin (often below the collarbone) to hold the stimulator pulse generator. This stage does not typically take that long.

      Being overweight can put you at higher risk for anesthesia complications. It depends to some degree on how overweight you are, but some of the potential problems include: increased respiratory issues, increased heart issues (eg. High Blood pressure), insulin resistance (eg. diabetes), and bone/joint problems, just to name a few.

      I don’t know if any of the above apply to your case, but be sure to discuss with your anesthesiologist all of your medical issues, what his/her anesthesia plan is, and come ready with your questions.

      Nothing in medicine, unfortunately, is without risk. In the end, you have to weigh the potential benefits of the procedure against the risks.

      I wish you safety and good health.

      Dr. Dave

  10. Al says:

    Hello,I underwent hernia surgery in 2010, after the surgery at home Ipassed at and the persons present were unable to revive me and called the EMTs.Ended up spending the night in cardiac care and was released the next day. I was told it was a result of the anthesia which had made my heart rate drop. Less than a year later while on vacation I got up in the middle of the night and passed out again. In the morning I again passed out with others around they called emts and I went to the hospital. Again my heartrate was dropping and causing me to black out.At this time they decided to put a pacemaker in me.I had never had any problems up to this point with my heart,don’t smoke,I’m not on drugs and Iam in good shape at 50something. Nobody seems to have a straight answer on if the anthesia may have been the cause of this.Ihave another surgery to repair the same hernia site at the end od October and I’m not real excited about going in again.Any info or advice would be helpful. Thank you.

    • DrJoe says:

      Hi Al,

      You have had a tough time! I will do my best to piece through your situation and hopefully provide some measure of relief.

      There are many different reasons why someone can pass out. But I know that you are wanting to know if the anesthesia you received was the cause.

      After looking at your story as a whole, I would say it is unlikely that your continued symptoms were a result of the anesthesia you received for your hernia repair. Certainly, there are medicines used during anesthesia than can cause a slowing of your heart rate. But the medicines specifically used during general anesthesia should have “worn off” from your body long before you arrived home after your surgery.

      Certain opioid pain medicines that are given after surgery may in some instances cause low blood pressure or a slowing of the heart rate. If someone is dehydrated after surgery, “orthostatic hypotension” can possibly occur. This can cause a person to feel light headed or even pass out. A “vasovagal” response can occur in a variety of situations, causing a decrease in a person’s heart rate. There are many other reasons why a person may have a slowed heart rate as well.

      The fact that you experienced this same situation several months after your hernia surgery is what leads me to say that the general anesthesia you received is unlikely to be the cause of your symptoms.

      I would definitely let your surgeon know about the events that occurred after your last surgery. He or she may alert the anesthesiologist to meet with you prior to your case. Also, I would also contact the cardiologist who placed your pacemaker to let them know you are scheduled for surgery in October. Further testing may need to be performed prior to your case.

      I hope I have been able to help. Please let me know if this clears anything up for you.

      Dr. Joe

    • wilfred says:

      I have a antrochoanal polyp in my nose,it is also visible at the back of my throat.To remove this polyp do you have to have general anesthesia or can it be done under local anesthesia or concious sedation.General anesthesia bothers me the thought of just having it.

      • DrJoe says:

        Wilfred,

        I am sorry to hear that you are nervous about the thought of general anesthesia. In patients who do not have uncontrolled systemic diseases such as heart disease, chronic lung disease, renal failure (just to name a few), general anesthesia carries a low risk for serious side effects.

        If one of our ENT surgeon colleagues approached me to do a case such as yours under local anesthesia and IV sedation, I would certainly discuss the situation with the surgeon. They obviously know and understand the anatomy and pathology of nasal polyps. And if they believe that the case could be done under local anesthesia plus IV sedation, I may be willing to give it a try. This would be after talking more with you, learning about your medical and surgical history, performing a physical exam, and looking through any labs and studies.

        However, general anesthesia is our backup for cases that do not go as planned under local anesthesia and IV sedation. So I would be mentally prepared for this possibility.

        If I may ask, can you let me know what part of the general anesthesia process bothers you? That will help me know how best to respond.

        Thanks for your comment!
        Dr. Joe

  11. Julia says:

    Dear Dr. Dave,

    I may have to undergo a laproscopic surgery for a recurrent umbilical hernia. I understand that this may require general anesthesia. I sometimes have PVC’s and I am worried that might affect me badly during the surgery. I am a very physically fit 46 year old woman, not at all overweight.

    Can you please advice?

    Thanks!

    • Dr Dave says:

      Julia,

      Laparoscopic abdominal surgery, such as umbilical hernia repair, is typically done under general anesthesia. The procedure does not usually take very long.

      You should have one of your physicians evaluate the PVC’s. They can sometimes occur in healthy people (like it sounds you are), but they can also be a sign of something more serious. The possibilities are too many to list here. You want your doctor to evaluate just to make sure it isn’t something more serious.

      My suggestion would be to let your surgeon know, and then have your primary care physician evaluate it as well. They will likely want to know how often you get them, and if you get single or multiple ones in a row (among other things). They will likely get an EKG to more closely examine the rhythm of your heart, possibly get some blood work, and then guide your care further depending on the results.

      The fact that you are physically fit and not overweight bodes well. Great job there!

      Best of luck with your surgery.

      Dr. Dave

  12. pat borkowski says:

    I had 3 major surgeries in 10 months5/11 miniscus repair 7/11 necrotic appendix, with massive antibiotics. And 3/12 total knee replacement. How long does it take for all of the effects to be cleared out of my body. Also, and my major question is, significant hair loss. Is this awful and I want to know will it come back? I do have Lupus and have healed quite well.

    • Dr Dave says:

      Pat,

      Thank you for your questions.

      The anesthetics will usually “clear out of your body” within a few hours. This will depend to some degree on what medicines you received and if there are any issues with your liver or kidneys, as they are often involved in the metabolism of drugs. I usually tell my patients they will feel close to “normal” within a few hours, but that they should not “sign any important documents” and “take it easy” for about 24 hours after surgery.

      With respect to the hair loss, this is extremely rare as an anesthetic complication. It can sometimes occur on the part of the head that is in contact with the pillow (usually the back of the head). This becomes more of an issue for longer surgeries (greater than 4 hours). But again, it is still very rare.

      There is also a genetic component to hair loss, as well as an “autoimmune” component. You mentioned you have lupus. Perhaps there is an autoimmune component to your hair loss. This may be something to investigate further with your physician.

      Stay Healthy,

      Dr. Dave

  13. martha anderson says:

    My dau. had a knee replacement. She lost a lot of blood and was in recovery 3 hrs, due o her blood pr. falling so low. Since then she has healed but she is not herself, no personality, very quiet, not like her at all. can any of the procedures cause depression or mood change? Martha

    • Dr Dave says:

      Martha,

      I’m sorry to hear about your daughter’s difficult surgical experience.

      It sounds like you have unfortunately stumbled into an area of ongoing and incomplete anesthesia research: Post Operative Cognitive Dysfunction (POCD).

      There is a lot of research into the long-term effects of anesthesia, including the effects on the brain. One problem is that it is quite challenging to design research studies that can tease out what effects are related to anesthesia, and which to the underlying surgical procedure. You don’t get anesthesia unless there is a reason.

      Without knowing much detail about the specifics in your daughter’s case, here is a list of what MAY be going on:

      1. Residual effects of anesthesia, pain medicines.

      It can take up to several days to completely clear these medicines from the system. A knee replacement is a painful procedure. Depending on whether your daughter had a nerve block or epidural to help relieve the pain, she may be taking a considerable amount of pain medication in the recovery period. Morphine-like medicines can make a person drowsy and contribute to the cognitive symptoms you are describing.

      2. Stress of Surgery

      It is sometimes lost on us that undergoing a major operation, like a knee replacement, can be very tough on the body. The body mounts a “stress response”, where hormone levels and metabolism is altered. These effects can last up to several months as the body slowly recovers.

      3. Pre-existing Abnormal Mental Function

      POCD is more likely in older patients, those with high alcohol intake, a history of mental dysfunction/dementia, and those with a lower IQ (not a complete list). In these patients a decreased “mental reserve” can be unmasked by the combination of surgery and anesthesia.

      I would add for consideration the possibility of undiagnosed/ unrecognized depression that was present beforehand.

      4. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

      PTSD is a disorder than can develop when someone experiences or witnesses a traumatic event that he/she perceives as harmful to themselves or a loved one. What’s important is that person’s perception. A major, and potentially painful surgery, can cause PTSD.

      While my list of potential causes can not pinpoint what is going on with your daughter, I hope that it begins to give you some idea about what may be going on.

      The good news is that POCD declines with time (3 months out, for example), especially among young people. But if you think there may be some PTSD or a pre-existing mental issue component present, it would be a good idea to seek professional help.

      I pray for your daughter’s speedy and complete recovery. Let me know if there’s any other way we can help.

      Sincerely,

      Dr. Dave

      • Marti McLeod says:

        I am a 59 year old male, who donated a kidney last June to a friend. The surgery went fine, but am still suffering the effects of PTSD with symptoms of severe depression and anxiety. Two perceived life-threatening events occurred following surgery. Another patient went berserk in the recovery room and threatened people’s lives, equipment crashing down and I thought I would die if he came near. He was eventually restrained by security. Later in the day, fentanyl was ordered by pain mgmt. nurse because of my adverse reaction to both morphine and demerol, and I thought the nurse would overdose me as she didn’t seem to know how to load the vial into the pump. Also, the person I donated to was rushed to ICU with an esophogial hemmorhage and I was told he probably would not make it. What a shock. He survived and is now well. Hard to believe all these thing could occur following one surgery, but they have left me confused and overwhelmed etc. I am seeking professional help with this situation and slowly improving. My question is, I am in great need of shoulder-replacement surgery but am very concerned about having it done at this time. I don’t know how large a role general anaesthetic and other medications played in my current situation, and what possibility is there I will return to suicidal depression etc. if I have it done?

        • DrJoe says:

          What a heroic act it was to donate your kidney to someone else! This alone would be an emotional experience for anyone.

          I cannot say for sure that the anesthesia medicines played a role in what you are currently going through. It would be atypical for the anesthesia medicines themselves to have this effect, though. However, that is not an attempt to downplay everything that you are experiencing.

          I can understand why you are nervous about your upcoming shoulder surgery. In many cases, shoulder surgeries are performed under general anesthesia with a nerve block. These nerve blocks can significantly reduce the amount of discomfort you may have after a shoulder surgery.

          The good news is that this may mean you are given a “lighter” general anesthetic, thus limiting your overall exposure to these medicines (although general anesthesia overall is still safe). Please see this post on chest pain with its concluding comments to read about this exact variety of surgery and anesthetic.

          Also, I would try and speak with both your surgeon and anesthesiologist prior to your surgery. Please see this post about the fear of anesthesia for more details.

          I am hopeful that you continue to get better over time. And I think you should call upon your family and friends to help you through your next surgery as well. It will be best to have those that love you by your side during this difficult time.

          Best of luck to you. Come back and let us know about your shoulder replacement.

  14. stacy says:

    Hi I had my appendix removed yesterday laproscopically..no complications then have had very little pain today..however my face has been flushed this afternoon and it is getting worse..i have no fever..but my cheeks are visibly red..is this some crazy effect of general anesthesia?

    • Dr Dave says:

      Hi Stacy,

      Thanks for your question, and glad to hear you got through your surgery will relatively little pain.

      Facial flushing is not a commonly seen effect after general anesthesia. A couple of possibilities come to mind (not a complete list):

      1. Food Triggers

      These can include the obvious “spicy food” culprits like hot peppers, curry, and onions. This can also be caused by high calorie, high carb foods like pastas and junk food.

      2. Drink Triggers

      Caffeinated drinks (hot or cold) can cause the “dilation of blood vessels” that leads to flushing. These include coffee, tea, sodas, and energy drinks. Also check labels for kava (sometimes an ingredient in energy drinks) as it can also cause flushing.

      3. Food Allergies

      Certain foods or food additives can cause flushing. Things like aspartame, MSG, and various preservatives can be the culprits here.

      4. Drug Reaction

      If none of the above sound plausible, perhaps you are reacting to a (new) medicine you are taking. What is helpful here is to keep a careful record of when you are having symptoms and what the relationship is to any medicines you are taking. Be sure to discuss this with your doctor if you think it may be an issue.

      5. Infection

      I know you mentioned you didn’t have a fever. But it may be wise to continue to look out for signs of any infection. This includes developing a fever, or pain/redness/pus at the site of your incision.

      Best of luck,

      Dr. Dave

    • Anna says:

      Stacy,
      I have had this facial flushing twice now with general anaesthesia. It has occurred with both op’s I have had within the last two years. The first was thought to be a reaction to antibiotics, but this time I have not had any anti’s so I know it’s not that!
      It’s very uncomfortable to have such a hot, red face. I believe it may be some adverse reaction to a drug used throughout the surgery, and I’ve taken some photos so I can talk to my doctor about its possible causes when I see him for a follow up appointment.
      I’ll let you know if I find out what it is. =)

      • Dr Dave says:

        Anna,

        Thanks for sharing and contributing to our growing “anesthesia” community.

        Your suggestion of taking pictures is a great one. This will certainly help your docs figure out what’s going on.

        Thanks again,

        Dr. Dave

        • Clare says:

          I had a knee arthroscopy yesterday . Straight after I had a sore throat and cough which I know can be expected but today I have a flushed face . The medications I have taken are the same ones I have been taking for RA for the past 8 years . Anything to worry about ???

          • DrJoe says:

            Hi there,

            Thanks for contacting us. I would be worried about the flushing of your face if it is accompanied by other symptoms. Concerning symptoms would be fever, shortness of breath, chest pain, and headache.

            Overall though, I wouldn’t expect your facial flushing to be a result of the anesthesia.

            Best of luck. Let us know how things turn out for you.

  15. Georgia says:

    Hi there,

    So last Monday (15th october) I had a fistulotomy done under general anaesthetic. I was extremely nervous going in there was even crying and panicking. Last thing I remember before being knocked out was chest pain which I made sure the anaesthesiologist knew about. So anyways after I woke up I yet again cried which was completely uncontrolled. (Sorry if this is irrelevant but I’m trying to give you as much info possible). Anyways afterwards I then experienced like a super speedy recovery from the anaesthetic the nurses where shocked. So they took me off my Iv early and told me to get dressed. As I was getting dressed I just sweated up all over like every bit of me was soaked! I also went pale and my blood pressure dropped along with feeling extremely nauseous. I didn’t manage to purge though. So after a few hours rest I felt fine and went home.

    Then on Thursday last I got a sharp pain in my stomach in the centre below my ribs and my back on both sides below my ribs. Thought it may have been constipation so took laxative, but that was awful! like severe diahhorea happened as a result of that. I took pain killers and the pain decreased by Friday eve. I phoned my consultant and he said take laxative and neurofen along with paracetamol if the neurofen doesn’t kill the pain. However, I still have a horrible pain like someone punched me in the middle of my stomach just below my ribs. It comes on when I eat and after I eat and I think even when I move around. Also when I eat the food tends to come back up after I swallow it. Another thing my stomach is really bloated like the most bloated I’ve ever seen and it is definitely whiter than normal (maybe my imagination). It’s not constipation as that seems to work fine.

    I’m wondering is it an intensitinal bug? Like maybe gastroenteritis I picked up in the hospital? I hope its nothing too sever but its really worrying me. Please help.

    • DrJoe says:

      Thanks for trusting us with your question. I want to first say that you should contact your consultant physician to help solve your abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and discomfort. He or she is your best point of contact. It could be unsafe to take the advice of someone via the internet.

      Having said that, it could be entirely possible for someone to contract a viral gastroenteritis while in a hospital. It sounds like you have had quite a time over the past week. I hope you are feeling better now. Let us know what you find out.

      Dr. Joe

      • Georgia says:

        Hi joe,

        Thanks for the response. I visited my doctor and she diagnosed gastroenteritis after examination and has prescribed me some antacids. After my first one I’ve felt significantly better so hopefully its sorted. I see the doctor who performed the surgery in 4 weeks. Fingers crossed :).

  16. Dwight says:

    Dr. Dave,

    I’m 33 yrs old and had a total thyroidectomy on 10/17. Everything went well with the operation itself, my question is more toward the aftermath. In the hospital, I experienced numbness in my abdominal region with some occasional sharp pains on my right side due to movement or deep breathes. I asked my doctor about it and he said it may be gall bladder related and that we’d look further into it in the follow up appointment 4 days later. The next couple of days, I felt the numbness start to subside but still noticed that certain movements/deep breathes would irritate what feels like a small muscle tear/strain. Fast forward to today 10/22, I’m still experiencing numbness/tingling on my right side of my abdomen (a 10″ x 4″ area). I told my doctor all this and he insisted that I get a gall bladder sonogram. I’m still confused why he thinks it’s my gall bladder since the discomfort is more “topical” and not internal. I will go for the sonogram but feel like this has something to do with the anesthesia and would like to know if you feel the same way. Thank you for your time.

    • Dr Dave says:

      Dwight,

      I’m sorry for the late reply. Your comment got lost among others that came in.

      I’m not sure how much help I’m going to be, unfortunately.

      The “numbness” you describe seems very odd, given you had thyroid surgery. I’m not sure how that relates to your surgery or anesthesia. That’s certainly not common after general anesthesia.

      Having difficulty with deep breaths may suggest that you have some atelectasis. This is not unusual after surgery. After undergoing surgery and general anesthesia, parts of your lung may not be fully inflated or functional. This can cause some of the symptoms you describe, along with the possibility of low grade fever, rapid shallow breathing, etc.

      This is treated with things like active coughing and deep breathing exercises (incentive spirometry) in an effort to get the lungs functioning as they did prior to surgery.

      Other possibilities. Your digestive system takes a while to get back to “normal” after surgery. While this might give you some “abdominal” symptoms, I don’t see where the numbness is coming from.

      Sorry I can’t be of more help to you.

      I’d love to hear a follow-up if you have more information now on what happened.

      Sincerely,

      Dr. Dave

  17. kee says:

    I am 42 years old female. I had liposuction(tammy and back) op few month ago. I told surgeon that I am sensitive to adrenalin and I think he decided not to use it for lipo. I don’t know what type of anaesthesia I had. I only wake up from it naturally 10!!! hours later when care assistant heard me moaning.. I think they just moved me from operating theatre to my bed and completely forgot about me. I had very rough time recovering but not sure if it was connected to general anaesthesia or lipo op. My hemoglobin level was 7.2, but I manage to get it back in few weeks to normal level.. I am just wondering why everyone forgot about me and am I lucky to recover naturally after 10 hours since anaesthesia finished. This event been happened abroad. Many tanks

    • Dr Dave says:

      Kee,

      So sorry to hear about your experience!

      It’s impossible for me to know what happened during your case. Even your memories of events surrounding your procedure is so fuzzy. Add to that the fact that this happened abroad, where there may be different standards and procedures in place for the practice of anesthesia. It’s really hard to even have an educated guess.

      A hemoglobin level of 7.2 is quite low. Glad to hear that has normalized.

      Thanks again for sharing and I wish you continued health in the future.

      Dr Dave

  18. Carol says:

    Is there anything given for extreme nausea after surgery?

    • Dr Dave says:

      Hello Carol,

      There is a number of different medicines, that work at several different types of receptors, that are given for the treatment of post-op nausea and vomiting.

      One of the more popular ones is Zofran (ondansetron), which is a serotonin receptor antagonist.

      Other things that contribute to post-op nausea and/or vomiting is a poorly hydrated patient, or a patient that is experiencing low blood pressure. If these situations exist, fixing this can often improve symptoms significantly.

      Dr. Dave

  19. leslie p. says:

    hi,
    i hve lipoma in my back and its huge, i have my surgery last june 2012, it took about 3 hrs, im allergic to pain reliever like ibuprofen, i wonder why i still felt pain from my back, im sufferin for 4 months, it felt thick and if i touch it it hurt

    • Dr Dave says:

      Leslie,

      I’m sorry to hear you are still in pain.

      I don’t quite understand your scenario. If you still have a large lipoma on your back, that can certainly cause pain. Especially when you are lying on your back and putting pressure on that area.

      If you have since had surgery to remove the lipoma, you may still be suffering for pain and soreness related to the surgical procedure. And if you are limited in what pain medicines you can take because of allergies, this may be contributing as well.

      It would be wise to set up a visit with your physician so they can: hear your story of how you have been doing since the surgery, examine the surgical site, and possibly provide you with pain relief medicine that is safe for you to take.

      All the best to you,

      Dr. Dave

  20. Christina says:

    Hello Dr’s.

    I;m a 37yo that is relatively healthy no big issues other then weight. I’m going in for a tubal ligation (laproscopic surgery) on 11/6. I’ve been quite nervous and am trying to calm my nerves. One OB had told me that people have died from this. My main concern is I’m about 60 lbs overweight. However it’s evenly distributed. I do move about a lot, but don’t have an exercise regimen. My biggest concern is my blood pressure. I typically am around 100/70, but have been known several times to drop to 65/45 or a little lower. One such occurrence left me confused on the side of the road calling my boyfriend confused. He had to come get me told me to stay in the car. Just to give you an idea of how much it drops. I also know that when I take pain meds like Vicodin that it does cause my BP to drop as well.

    Does General Anesthesia cause your BP to drop? I’m hoping my nervousness (lol) will cause it go up so if it drops it’ll balance out. ;) Also how will they compensate if my BP does drop too low when I’m out?

    I also do get nauseous on certain medications. So just trying to figure out what might happen, calm my nerves, as well as potentially do anything I can to prepare for this.

    Thanks so much for any tips you can give.

    • Dr Dave says:

      Christina,

      As you mentioned yourself, the biggest concern from what you described is your drops in blood pressure. Dropping to 65/45 or lower is concerning, especially because you are having symptoms from these drops.

      My question would be, have you seen a physician to figure out why this is happening? If you haven’t, my recommendation would be to talk to your primary care physician and your OB/GYN PRIOR to your procedure. And then, certainly make sure your anesthesiologist knows about this during your interview before “going under”.

      There can be many causes of low blood pressure: heart problems, endocrine problems (eg. thyroid issues), dehydration, blood loss (eg. internal bleeding that could lead to anemia), infection, reactions to other medications you might be taking, etc.

      As you see, the list of potential issues is long and it’ll take a doctor carefully sifting through all this to figure it out.

      And not to scare you, but anesthesia medicines (both IV and anesthesia gases) can lower your blood pressure. Your anesthesiologist monitors your blood pressure throughout the procedure, and is ready to treat any unsafe drops. It’s part of the job we do.

      But a tubal ligation is an elective procedure, and it may be safer for you to figure out this blood pressure issue BEFORE undergoing anesthesia and the stresses of surgery.

      I hope this has been helpful information for you. Please keep us informed of your situation.

      Stay Healthy,

      Dr. Dave

      • Christina says:

        Hello Dr. Dave,

        Per your advice I called both the OB and the PCP. The OB said to talk to my PCP. The PCP had a nurse call and reviewed the last 3 BP’s and said since those were normal I should be fine. She didn’t understand the concern. I explained I went low from time to time. She said well that’s what the anesthesiologist is for and to let her know.

        So I printed a chart of my last BP’s off my Kaiser online medical record, for the last 2.5 years. I will just bring the chart so the Anesthesiologist is fully aware of my BP records. :)

        I’ll let you know how it goes after. Thanks so much for the information!

        • Dr Dave says:

          Christina,

          Way to be proactive about your health care!

          Make sure to also tell your anesthesiologist about the BP drops and the symptoms you had as a result.

          Best of luck. I’ll be keeping you in my prayers!

          And let us know how you did afterwards.

          Dr. Dave

          • Christina says:

            Hello again Drs.

            Well I had my surgery on Tuesday. I’m alive so that’s good. ;). Day one to two post opp my bladder lost its “memory” I’m told. So I had to go into the doc office twice to do a catheter. Until we could retrain my bladder. Ignoring that I also discovered I can’t take any prescription pain meds without getting a migraine. I’m at day 4 now and I’m still in pain. Ive taled to several women tell me they recovered in a weekend. I can sleep better but as soon as I walk my abdomen just strikes with sharp pains all over. I also have this well maybe a little tiny swelling on the right side of my belly that hurts no matter what.. I’ve been using ibuprofen and a heating pad frequently. Drinking lots of water. I emailed my doctor on Thursday and she said unless their was a fever I should be fine and it’ll work itself out. Do I’m confused why it hasn’t worked itself out. Clues thoughts help?

            • Dr Dave says:

              Christina,

              Glad to hear you made it through, “fairly” unscathed!

              It’s difficult to compare your recovery process to other people. We are all unique people, with our own profile of medical issues and tolerances for pain and soreness.

              It does sound, however, that you are moving in the right direction.

              Be sure to keep in contact with your OB should anything change.

              Take care,

              Dr. Dave

  21. TJ says:

    I had surgery 2 weeks ago and had a very frightening experence. Upon waking from surgery I still had the breathing tube down my throat. Immediately after the tube was removed I struggled to breath. I remeber 3 attempts to get a breath in but nothing but panic. Finally I was able to breath but I’ve been very upset that that this happened to me and have been having anxiety and some tears. My previous surgery I was not subjected to this so wonder what happened this time.

    • Dr Dave says:

      Hi TJ,

      I’m sorry you had such a scary experience.

      There are two ways to extubate (remove the breathing tube) a patient. One way is “deep”. This means the patient, while still under general anesthesia, is breathing on their own with breaths that are strong enough and fast enough.

      Sometimes, extubating this way may not be “safe”, for a variety of possible reasons. The patient will then be extubated “awake”. (Some anesthesiologists also feel that it is generally safer, in most cases, to extubate awake). The anesthesia is allowed to wear off and the breathing tube is only removed after the patient shows they are “awake” enough. Things like following basic commands and patient strength are assessed: lifting the head, opening eyes/mouth on command, squeezing a hand, etc.

      I have found that many patients, even when extubated “awake”, do not usually remember this experience.

      What may come into play here is if other sedatives/amnestic drugs (eg. Midazolam) were used during the case. This contributes to the amnesia that surrounds the OR experience.

      There may be a good reason your anesthesiologist chose to extubate you awake. It may be a good idea to speak with him/her to let them know of your experience and see what their thought process was for your anesthetic emergence.

      Take care,

      Dr. Dave

      • TJ says:

        Thank you for your reply. I did talk to the doctor and he said awake is his preferance. I also had drugs to help me forget but they did not work. I remember alot. I didnt find the tube being pulled out stressful just weird but the throat spasm after was a horrible experience. Im bit upset I wasnt informed that I would be awake. What info do you give your patients before surgery?

        • TJ says:

          I have another concern. Ever since surgery my mouth has been very dry. I even developed thrush the first week after surgery which has been treated. But the dryness persists. i did not have this problem before surgery. Can anesthesia be the cause? Is there a cure?

  22. duncan says:

    I had a general anaesthetic 7 years ago (33 years old at the time) for a complete lower jaw tooth clearance.
    I have had IV sedation on many occasions with no problems or side affects apart from the usual sore throat.
    but this time when i was being put under the anaesthetic felt like someone had smacked me in the back of the head rather than the usual drifting off to sleep i had experienced before.
    I went down to the operation room at 11am surgery time should have been a max of 1hr and my first memory when i did come around the time was 4pm
    i had a very painful chest it felt like someone had used me as a trampoline and i had difficulty passing urine for a few hours, other side affects were general aching and feeling like a zombie.
    i asked the nurses at the time what happened as i felt terrible all they would tell me was i did not want to wake up. what do they mean by that and what do you think happened to me.
    regards
    duncan

    • DrJoe says:

      Duncan,

      Thanks for your question.

      When the nurses told you that you did not want to wake up, it’s most likely due to the fact that your body was taking longer than usual to metabolize the anesthesia drugs. I do not believe that you were “not waking up” because of any permanent damage done to any of your organs. The anesthesia was just not wearing off. And that happens.

      For many different reasons, it may take some folks a little longer than usual to feel back to normal after general anesthesia. What’s important, though, is for you to discuss your prior experience with the anesthesiologist if you need to have surgery again.

      I hope this helps. Best of luck to you.

      Dr. Joe

  23. Lori says:

    The painful scoliosis braces that my son wore for three years did not work and we are being told that he will need a 6 hour surgery. He was born with mild hypotonia after a difficult birth. His doctors had always told us that we didn’t need to know the reason for his hypotonia because it didn’t seem to be getting any worse, but when he was seven we finally got a referral to a developmental pediatrician to see why he fatigued faster than other kids and his joints seemed a liittle loose. We were told that he had some sensory issues (proprioceptive and vestibular) and to work on these issues at home. We were also told that he had a high IQ. He had taught himself to read at 2 1/2, did very well in spelling bees, loved to learn and had no trouble learning. When he was older he got lead roles in our community musical theater. He easily memorized lines and songs.

    At 11 we found out that he had developed scoliosis and his life got a lot harder, but we always thought he would still be okay because he is smart and will go to college and get a job that is not physically demanding.

    I am very worried about possible side effects of anesthesia on his memory. My mother had severe memory loss and needed 24 hour care the rest of her life after she had hernia surgery. She was only 65. How can I be sure this won’t happen to him?

    Is he at higher risk of complications because of what happened to his grandmother? Could the hypotonia and sensory issues get worse after surgery? Will surgery affect his memory?

    I am really worried about this and since my son is a very smart kid and is used to looking up information about everything I am afraid he is going to see some of the scary things I have read.

    • Dr Dave says:

      Lori,

      I can only imagine all the scary thoughts going through your head as you ponder surgery for your son.

      And I will tell you up-front that I don’t have all the answers for you.

      There is some research out there looking at long term “neurobehavioral” effects in kids (typically less than age 4) with repeated anesthesia exposures. The bottom line is that more research is still needed and there is no evidence to make any specific recommendations at this time.

      One of the problems with these studies is that it’s very difficult to separate out the anesthesia effects from the surgical effects. No one is going to give a child anesthesia without surgery.

      Your son is also older than the kids in these studies. His brain is more developed at this point. And the fact that he is a smart kid can only help.

      Unfortunately, I can’t tell you that surgery/anesthesia won’t affect his memory. But hopefully, any effect will be short-lived and not permanent.

      Could the hypotonia and sensory issues get worse after surgery. Possibly. But this may have more to do with the scoliosis surgery itself. This is major spine surgery, as I’m sure you know.

      In the end, as parents and as patients, we have to consider the risks, benefits, and alternatives.

      This includes the risks associated with anesthesia, unfortunately.

      If the benefits outweigh the risks, and there are no better alternatives, then we proceed with surgery.

      Here is another potentially helpful resource for you. It’s called Smart Tots, and it focuses on anesthesia research in the pediatric population: http://www.smarttots.org

      I hope this has been somewhat helpful for you. I wish you and your family safety and good health.

      Dr. Dave

  24. Ingrid Turner says:

    I had surgery a month ago, I had to have an extra rib removed which was pressing on a nerve and causing atrophy in my right arm and hand. Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and I rested up properly for a week, then went to a conference to deliver a workshop and then started work. I am very weepy and lack energy and feel everything is just too much – I feel I can’t think properly. Could the anasthetic be to blame? I was only under for an hour though. I spent last week end in bed and have taken two days off this week.

    • DrJoe says:

      Hi there,

      Thanks for your comment. I am really sorry to hear you are feeling down and out.

      It would be very unlikely for the anesthetic to be the cause of your fatigue and difficulty thinking properly. If you have spent an entire week in bed and another two days away from work, it sounds like something very serious is going on.

      I hope you will contact your doctor soon to let him or her know how you have been feeling. And then let us know what you find out.

      I wish you the best of luck,

      Dr. Joe

  25. Ghalia says:

    I am female, 27 years old. I had a surgery on Monday, 5th Nov. I was diagnosed with nasal polyps. The surgery took 3 hours and i wasn’t fully conscious till the next day. They kept me for 3 days and i got discharged after the covering from my nose and the gauze inside it was removed. I had a very detailed meeting with my surgeon and i am happy that the surgery went successful without affecting my sight, don’t know about the smell yet though.

    It’s been a week today and there is still numbness in my forehead, cheeks, upper lip and upper jaw. My doctor had told me that it will fade with time so i am just hanging on. You know what really bothering me is the inability to think properly. I am not able to do simple calculations or to pick on any social cues. Is it supposed to happen after anesthesia? How much time will it take to get back to my usual routine with normal thinking brain?

    This was my second surgery in 5 years. The first one was a 5 hour long surgery of Crohn’s Disease but i don’t recall any such inactivity of the brain after being under for 5 hours, though that surgery was much bigger than this one.

    I came across your blog and found your posts really helpful. I am sure that you will guide me and tell me the questions i must ask my surgeon in the coming meeting.

    • Dr Dave says:

      Ghalia,

      Thanks for checking in with your question. I’m glad you have found this site helpful.

      The numbness you are experiencing in the facial area sounds like it is related to the surgery itself. I don’t think this is anesthesia related.

      The “mental” issues you are experiencing sounds like POCD (post operative cognitive decline).

      This is an area of great interest in anesthesia research.

      Unfortunately, I can’t give you a specific timeline. But I think you should see these effects continue to decrease and/or go away in the weeks and months ahead.

      My hope is that you make a quick and full recovery.

      Dr. Dave

  26. Teresa says:

    Hello my mother is 91 yrs old and she had a hip replacement 4days ago.she is in good health never smoked or drinks. about 124lbs.she is experiencing confusion she doesn’t know where she is she keeps saying she wants to go home.but she is home ..I’m very nervous about it she is on a few medicines and also blood thinners any suggestions on what to do

    • DrJoe says:

      Teresa,

      Sometimes patients who are more mature in age respond differently to the stresses of surgery and a hospital stay than say a younger person would respond. Please see Dr. Dave’s comment above on Post-Operative Cognitive Dysfunction for some causes of confusion after anesthesia and surgery.

      However, in your mom’s case, I would be concerned if she is getting confused now and was not confused in the hospital. She needs a full checkup to make sure she doesn’t have some sort of an infection or systemic process going on that is leading to her confusion. “Sundowning” can happen in hospitals because of the change in a person’s sleep-wake pattern that occurs. This sundowning can be scary for family members, but it usually resolves when patients get back to their normal routine. But as I mentioned, I would have your mom be seen by her physician soon for a proper diagnosis and workup.

      Let me know what happens.

      Best of luck,
      Dr. Joe

  27. tj says:

    I’ve had two surgeries with general anesthesia. First was for a shoulder repair with block and general. I went under quickly and didn’t wake up until I was in recovery. My memory of my time under was a blank blackness. I remember everything before and after but not anything of my surgery. My second was for a lap gallbladder removal and again I went under without problem but as the surgeon was finishing up I started to awaken. My doc said he gave me more drugs to keep me out but I still woke up before they pulled the tube out and then my my throat closed off. I remember trying to take 3-4 breaths but I could not get any air in. Waking up to this event was very terrifying. My memory this time of being unders was filled with bright lightness and then of course suffocation. I don’t understand why there is such a difference in experiences.

    • Dr Dave says:

      TJ,

      I can’t say with certainty why you had such different experiences.

      Some of it may have to do with the specific medicines that were used as part of your two anesthetics. And part of it may be the plan for emergence from anesthesia and extubation (removing the breathing tube) that your anesthesiologist implemented.

      As I mentioned in an earlier response, sometimes the anesthesiologist has very good reasons for an “awake” extubation. But it’s impossible for me to say without knowing all the details.

      I’m sorry your second experience was so scary.

      Dr. Dave

      • TJ says:

        Thanks again. Sorry for my two similar posts. The doc said it was his preference to do awake extubations. I definately will ask more questions if I ever need anesthesia again. It is just hard to know what questions to ask.

        • Dr Dave says:

          TJ,

          I’ll try to reply to all your questions in this response.

          What I tell patients before general anesthesia has some variability. While there are some “basics” that I tell to just about everyone, I try to guide my consultation by the patient as well. With some patients, I can sense their anxiety go up the more details I give them. I will then ask them if this is the case, and if they would like a more abbreviated version. After all, there is a written anesthesia consent that they have already read over and signed.

          But some patients will ask more detailed and specific information: will I be intubated, what drug(s) will you use to put me to sleep, etc. In these instances I’m happy to go in as much detail as they like.

          I’m sorry to hear about your thrush and persisting dry mouth. Dry mouth can often be a symptom in connection with thrush. It can also be caused by various medicines. If you are taking “new” medicines since your procedure, they could be contributing. Tobacco use can cause dry mouth as well. And there are also several different medical conditions that can cause dry mouth.

          It’s impossible for us to pinpoint the cause for you here. But if it persists, you can talk to your doctor about it. And the above paragraph contains some of the possible causes.

          Thanks for your questions and I hope you get back to “normal” soon.

          Dr. Dave

  28. Ghalia says:

    Doctor, I did write to you before about the surgery i had (concha bullosa on the left; nasal polyps and fungal infection on the right nostril. was under for 3 hours) and the weird mental condition i am experiencing. It has been 10 days that i had a surgery but my brain is still not working. I am not able to jude, to think or to make any plans. The wrong seems fine and the right two. I cannot make a choice between 2 things, cannot solve problems or to process any information. I am forgetting what happened in the previous hour, i cannot remember the date and got no notion of time. I do not know when i am hungry or thirsty and i cannot tell when should i stop eating. The food i used to love is the same as the food i hated before. I look at the clock to check if it is the time to sleep. My reflexes aren’t working. I cannot manage my money. Apparently i look all fine but this is what happening in real.

    Is it something really bad? You told me it’s POCD. Tell me how to get rid of it? Who do i see if it asks for a treatment? It is compromising me my job and my studies. I need real help. In the articles they say that the people with POCD have a risk of death in 6 months after surgery, so am i going to die? I do need help to get rid of the feelinglessness and thougtless brain. I am almost 28, please tell me straight if i can or cannot improve.

    PS. I have a history of depression and insomnia, starting form October 2008 till present and i take medication for both. Do i need to see my shrink too??

    Desperate to get the answers. Please help me doc :(

    • Dr Dave says:

      Ghalia,

      I am sorry to hear your recovery is going so poorly.

      It sounds like you are at a point where you should get some help. Your primary care physician is a good start. Your mental health provider may be of help as well. With a history of depression and insomnia, these may be combining with some element of POCD, to make your recovery that much more difficult.

      It would be wise to get some professional help. Meanwhile, I’ll be praying for your full recovery.

      Dr. Dave

  29. Mrs. Meyer says:

    Can numbness in the leg be a side effect from general anthesia? It is effecting about an 8 inch area on the outside of my thigh. It is now 36 hours after surgery. I have no swelling or pain, so doubt it could be a blood clot. any thoughts? if it persists, I will go back to the doctor. in the meantime, would just like to know if this is a common side effect.

    • DrJoe says:

      Thanks for your question. Can you tell us the type of surgery that you underwent? That will help quite a bit.

      However, in general terms, an area of numbness on your thigh would not be expected after general anesthesia.

      Looking forward to hearing back from you,

      Dr Joe

      • Mrs. Meyer says:

        It was a hysterectomy.

        • DrJoe says:

          Thanks for the update. I was just making sure the surgery was not on your leg :)

          It would be uncommon for you to have this area of numbness on your thigh after a hysterectomy. I think you have the best plan. See if it persists, and if it does, tell your surgeon about it.

          And tell us as well.

          Dr Joe

          • Mrs. Meyer says:

            I spoke to a nurse in the surgeon’s office. I was told that the numbness is likely a result of an aggrevated nerve that probably resulted from positioning on the OR table. They said it should go away in time, but it could be a while.
            How common is this injury? I did some research online and apparently there are numerous hysterectomy patients with similar situations, although many have the numbness in their lower legs and some have significant pain along with the numbness.
            Can you explain which nerve is impacted and how this can happen? This risk was not discussed with me prior to surgery, neither by the surgeon nor the hospital. It sounds like this is something preventable..

            • DrJoe says:

              Mrs. Meyer,

              Thanks for keeping us up to speed with your condition. The nurse is probably referring to the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve which is a sensory nerve that provides sensation only to the lateral part of the thigh. If this area of your thigh is numb and painful it may then be referred to as meralgia paresthetica.

              Rarely, positioning of your body during surgery may lead to pressure on a nerve which could then lead to numbness. Has your hand ever become numb after sleeping on your arm a certain way? This would be the best analogy.

              The operating room team pays special attention to the positioning of your body while you are asleep. We know that when you are anesthetized, you cannot tell anyone that something hurts. Padding is used underneath your head, arms, elbows, hands, legs, and feet to help protect you against any injury.

              Nerve injuries from positioning during surgery are rare. I do not routinely mention this possibility during my visit with patients. This is simply due to the fact that there are hundreds of other possible but highly unlikely things that could happen in the operating room.

              My hope is that you find out the cause of your numbness and that it goes away soon.

              Hope this helps,

              Dr. Joe

  30. Mark Weimer says:

    Dr. Dave,

    I had a very brief surgical procedure to remove a polyp from my tongue. Immediately after waking up I began to have what are apparently bladder spasms which were fairly severe for one day, but have settled down. I still have an urgency to urinate and some inability to void plus a bit of discomfort when voiding. I had urine and blood tests which are normal. Your thoughts.

    Mark

    • Dr Dave says:

      Mark,

      This sounds a bit unusual.

      Sometimes patients that “wake up” from anesthesia with a urine catheter in place describe some of the the symptoms you’ve mentioned.

      But a brief procedure, of the nature you described, I don’t see a reason why you would have a catheter placed. And I don’t see why an “in and out” catheterization would be performed either.

      How about narcotic-type pain medicines? Sometimes these types of medicines (eg. morphine) can cause an inability to void (void properly).

      The normal tests are reassuring.

      These are the first thoughts that come to mind. I hope you get back to normal soon.

      Dr. Dave

  31. Luci Parsons says:

    Could you kindly help me. Why do I have headaches the next day after SURGERY DONE on my left hand.( Carpal Tunnel). They gave me Anesthesia: Moderate Sedation. I have terrible experience having terrible headaches when I woke up in the morning at my home. It last all day and was afraid to take Aleve not to mix with the Anesthesia.First,I thought it was my pain killer(IC HYDROCODON-ACETAMINOPHEN 5-325…REFER TO MONOGRAPH) did gives me an headaches. Thank for your time to read.

    LP.

    • Dr Dave says:

      Luci,

      Thanks for your question, and I’m sorry you’re suffering such terrible headaches.

      Unfortunately, I won’t be much help to you.

      Headaches are such a general complaint and the issues can range from “not very serious” to “very serious”.

      Some of the things that would make me concerned about a headache: this headache is “new” for me (ie. it’s not like headaches I’ve experienced before), it is very severe, it is not getting better, etc.

      I hope your headaches completely go away. But if they don’t, you should consider telling your doctor about them.

      Take Care,

      Dr. Dave

  32. Sally says:

    I have to have surgery to remove a cyst from my ear. They said it will only take 30 minutes but they will use general anesthesia. Will they place a tube down my throat? Are ear surgeries typically painful?

    • Dr Dave says:

      Sally,

      Whether you will be intubated (placing a breathing tube into your windpipe) will depend on your anesthesiologist. He/she will assess your medical history, conduct a focused physical exam, consider how your head will be placed to give the surgeon access to the cyst on your ear, and then make a decision.

      My hope is that this won’t be very painful for you. Some factors include the size of the cyst, the surgeons ability to supplement with local anesthesia, and your tolerance for pain.

      The good news is your anesthesiologist will be giving you IV pain medicine, and you will be written for pain medicine in the recovery period.

      I hope you have a smooth experience.

      Dr. Dave

  33. Patrick says:

    Hello, I am having a 4 level decompression and fusion with rods and plates, and I would like to know how long this surgery will transpire, and what to expect for side effects of anesthesia, being at 330 lbs

    • Dr Dave says:

      Hi Patrick,

      I’m sure you realize the surgery you describe is a major one. The best person to give you a time estimate will be your surgeon. Some of the factors include your surgeon’s typical speed and exactly what he/she encounters once the surgery begins. Your weight may also make the surgical dissection more difficult and add to the time of surgery.

      As far as side effects, the usual ones described in this post apply.

      Additionally, those that are overweight may encounter some of the following problems (depending on their personal medical history):
      1. Difficult IV placement
      2. Difficult Airway
      3. Issues related to Sleep Apnea (increased risk of respiratory depression/ difficulty breathing after surgery)
      4. Issues with management of underlying High Blood Pressure, Heart Disease
      5. Management of underlying Diabetes
      6. Management of Gastro-esophageal Reflux Disease (heartburn)

      For this particular type of surgery, “positioning” may be an important issue.

      For this surgery, you will be face down, laying on your abdomen, so your surgeon can gain access to your spine from your back. Your anethesiologist, and the entire OR staff, will take great care to pad/cushion/protect all of your body’s pressure points. But due to your increased size and the likely length of the surgery, there’s a chance you may wake up with some peripheral nerve injury. Usually, these go away over days, weeks, or months.

      Another thing for you to understand, is that being “face down” for that long of time will likely cause you to wake up with significant swelling of your eyes, lips, and face. Your body processes this extra fluid and it typically resolves over a day or so.

      There is one last, important but scary, side effect I want to mention with major spine surgery in the prone (face down) position: Post Operative Visual Loss or Blindness. This rare, but devastating, side effect happens in about 1 in 1,000 spine surgeries. Some of the risk factors that increase this risk are: Being male, Obesity, having a long surgery, and having a surgery with significant blood loss.

      I know I gave you alot to consider here, Patrick.

      My intention is not to scare, but I do want you to know the risks for this surgery for someone of larger size. I understand folks don’t opt for this type of surgery unless there is a real need. The benefits may still outweigh the risks.

      It may be a good idea to talk to your spine surgeon in detail, and perhaps your anesthesiologist as well, as to how some of these potential risks/side effects apply more specifically to you.

      I wish you the best of luck. And please keep us informed of your situation.

      Dr. Dave

      • Patrick says:

        I have been processing what you have replied for some time now, and I have a conclusion.
        Since my face will be in a padded ring, in order for the breathing tube to function, it stands to reason that the face, lips and eyes become enlarged due to the fact that gravity, pressure of the foam on the ring, overall blood pressure, and being unconscious a lot of normal events will not function to compensate for the build up of fluid.
        My thought now is, when the eye slowly becomes enlarged, its weight must be increasing and there is no protection of muscles to prevent the eye from stretching to the floor, which in turn causes stress on the optic nerve, which causes fluid to slowly build up .. Should there be something hold the eyes in place, to help prevent the inevitable outcome?

        (I am using words that I normally never use, I just want to let you know that I am not unintelligent, and I absolutely understand when you respond in posts.)

        I am not scared, I am terrified.

        But, I am one of the extremely few men on this Earth to have found my soulmate, and she is completely helping me through this incredible part of my life.

        • Dr Dave says:

          Patrick,

          Eyes are taped shut, when a patient has general anesthesia, to protect them from injury. For prone surgeries, sometimes special “prone goggles” are also placed on the patient’s eyes.

          There is no danger of the eyes “stretching to the floor”; but it sounds like you are understanding the physiologic issues being “face down” for a prolonged surgical time.

          My intention was not to terrify you. But I did want you to understand the risks with these types of surgeries.

          Again, the risk of visual loss is still rare. Most data I’ve seen puts it at less than 1%. But I did want you to be aware.

          My suggestion is to meet with your surgeon and your anesthesiologist and have a very candid talk with them about this surgery and the risk factors for you.

          I wish you and your family the best. I will keep you in my prayers.

          Feel free to keep us updated on your progress.

          Dr. Dave

  34. Carol says:

    Hi. In August of this year, I had a TURBT for bladder cancer. 6 weeks later, I had to undergo cytoscopy. Both procedures under general anesthesia. Since that time, I have been extremely fatigued, always sleepy. Could this be the result of the anesthesia?

    • Dr Dave says:

      Carol,

      It’s possible your body is still recovering from two surgeries that have occurred not too long ago.

      Fatigue, however, is a very general symptom that could be the result of lots of different things.

      It would be smart to talk to your primary care doctor about this so that he/she can properly work this up.

      Dr. Dave

  35. brandon says:

    Hello, I’m scheduled for hand surgery of the metacarpal on 12/5. The surgeon said that I would be put under general anesthesia. Is this absolutely necessary or would just local or regional be enough? He estimated that the surgery should take about an hour. I’m just nervous that since I smoke and drink (will definitely work on quitting after this), I would require a higher dose of anesthetics and that it can lead to some of the problems mentioned on this thread, such as confusion, inability to do simple math and ect. I’m not sure if the risks outweigh the benefits for general anesthesia for this procedure. Thank you in advance for your help.

    • Dr Dave says:

      Brandon,

      It’s doubtful that local anesthesia would be enough for your procedure with your surgeon scheduling it under general anesthesia, though it depends on exactly what is being done.

      Regional anesthesia is an option/alternative. Keep in mind, however, that many of the studies showing post operative cognitive dysfunction found these issues independent of the type of anesthetic given (general vs regional).

      More research needs to be done, but there seems to be something about the “stress of surgery” that contributes to this phenomenon.

      I would suggest being forthcoming about your medical history when speaking to your anesthesiologist. Let him/her know your concerns about anesthesia and it’s risks/side effects, and then use them as your consultant to come up with the best anesthesia plan for you.

      Your anesthesiologist wants to get you safely through your surgical experience. I wish you a great experience and a speedy recovery.

      Dr. Dave

  36. Becky says:

    I had day surgery last wed. A lapro to take out my cervix (never had children) and ovaries. I went in around 11 and the surgery took 2 1/2 hours instead of 1 1/2 (do to not having children…uterus taken out last year) The next time I looked at the clock it was 8 at night and I was in the hospital.
    I guess it was imposible to wake me up. When my name was said or I was shaken a bit I tried to open my eyes, but failed and then went right back asleep. I came around fine after 8pm, but this was very unexpected. I was out of the hospital by the next day at 8am. Am I just sensitive to anesthesia? Is this dangerous? Last year that did not happen.
    Thanks in advance for some help in understanding.

    • Dr Dave says:

      Becky,

      It’s hard to know exactly what happened, not knowing all the details of your surgery and anesthetic.

      It may be that you are sensitive to at least one of the meds/anesthetics given to you. There’s also a chance it could have been a cumulative effect of all the medicines you received.

      You could speak with your anesthesiologist to see if he/she has any insights about why this happened to you this time around. And I would mention it to any future anesthesiologists should you need further care in the future.

      I wish you the best going forward.

      Dr. Dave

  37. Patrick says:

    Dr. Dave,
    I want to thank you, for having this site.
    You have definitely and singlehandedly destroyed all the fear that I had.
    Thank you for taking the time to read, and respond truthfully, not only to myself, but for everyone who posts.

    This is how consultations should go, but most do not.

    once again sir, Thank You.

    • Dr Dave says:

      Patrick,

      You are very welcome.

      You have no idea what that comment means to me. This is the kind of positive impact Dr. Joe and I are working hard to create here with this site and this community.

      We are all pulling for you. Please keep us updated on how you are doing.

      Dr. Dave

  38. Paula P says:

    Hello,
    I had a suspicious nodule on the right side of my thyroid removed on Nov 13th. It was cancerous so on Dec 4th, the left side was removed as well. With the first surgery, I did have a very sore throat and I couldn’t move my neck. (I also have 3 herniated discs in my neck, so the position my head was placed in for the surgery did not help). Chloraseptic spray helped and ice pops etc.. for the sore throat.
    However, the second surgery 3 days ago left me with a feeling of something being stuck at the back of my extremely severe sore throat. I can feel it on the very back of my tongue when I speak and stand upright. I am still recovering from 2 surgeries in 3 weeks, so I am spending a lot of time in bed as I just have zero energy and feel blah. My question is, could the tube from the anaesthesia have injured something in my throat? It feels like I can cough it up, as if it is phlegm, but it is my skin! It is a horrible feeling. I do recall having a sore throat for about 2 days, but this time it is so much worse with the feeling of something ‘floating’ on the back of my tongue when I stand or speak.

    Thanjs in advance for your response,
    Paula P

    • DrJoe says:

      Hi Paula,

      Sorry that you are experiencing this discomfort in your throat. It sounds like you have been through a lot over the past month.

      It is likely that you were intubated for this type of surgery. So my short answer would be, yes, it is possible to have a sort throat from having a breathing tube in place during surgery. Some patients never experience this and others may have a sore throat that lasts for several days.

      What is not normal, however, is for this throat pain to be persistent. I would talk to your surgeon (especially if your surgeon is an Ear, Nose, and Throat surgeon) and let them know what you are experiencing. It may also be possible that you were difficult to intubate during surgery. Dave just wrote a great post on this here and maybe this will provide some insight as well.

      Keep in touch and let us know what happens. Sorry you are having to go through this.

      • Paula says:

        Hello again,

        I did see the surgeon again yesterday for a follow up ( he is an ear,nose, and throat doc) and he said the same thing you did. My uvula was stretched and my throat is very swollen but not infected. He was going to give me steroids but decided on pain killers instead and more rest. My body has been through a lot and my levels are beginning to lower after the thyroid removal, so I am very very tired, zero energy.
        Chloraseptic has a newer spray for severe sore throats which aims at the back of the mouth and coats. I must say it is a gigantic relief.
        Tomorrow I see my endocrinologist for the next step, most likely radiation.

        Thank you again for your response. I am scheduled for a colonoscopy on the 26th, so I do worry about going under again….and my poor uvula.

        Paula P

        • DrJoe says:

          Paula,

          Glad you are getting some relief and thanks for the tip about the new Chloraseptic spray. I will definitely tell patients about that if they experience a sore throat.

          I just wanted to provide you with some positive news though…..patients are not routinely intubated with a breathing tube for colonoscopies. In the majority of cases, patients breath on their own throughout the procedure while they are asleep. Sometimes the anesthesiologist will place oxygen underneath your nose or apply a mask over your nose and mouth, but rarely are patients intubated. Hopefully your uvula will stay on the sidelines for this one ;)

  39. Jose M says:

    Hi, i had surgery 4 days ago. Very minor, maybe 40 minute surgery. Scheduled at 7:30 am under general anesthesia and was home by 9am. I felt like i knew i would, tired and uninterested. I was back at work 2 days later and was in a funk, couldn’t shake it. I felt overwhelemed, over stimulated, could not focus ( depressed? ). Felt more like a dream than real, zombieish sort of speak. I still didn’t feel like myself today, its a hard feeling to explain with words but almost like i go through the days with no concept of time. To the point, am i experiencing side effects of anesthesia? POCD? Will i feel normal soon? Prior to surgery i had never felt this way. Thank you for being available to our questions!

    • DrJoe says:

      Thanks for trusting us with your question.

      I think that what you are experiencing now 4 days out from your surgery is unlikely a side effect from the anesthesia. It is impossible to say how quickly a person will feel back to their normal self after anesthesia, but it usually doesn’t take multiple days. Of course this is barring some medical history of dementia, strokes, psychiatric illness, prior difficulty with anesthesia, interactions from home medicines, substance abuse, etc.

      In other words, for a healthy person undergoing a short procedure under general anesthesia, I would expect this person to feel “back to normal” cognitively by the next day.

      If I may ask, what type of surgery did you have?

      Looking forward to hearing back from you.

      Dr. Joe

      • Jose M says:

        Dr. Joe, thanks for your reply. My surgery was for a fistula and hemorrhoid banding. No history of dementia in the family, no strokes, first time under anesthesia, not on any other medicine(s), non smoker non drug user non drinker ( well, only on social events ). Im 29, no health issues. I have notice with each day gone by, my symptoms have decreased or are completely gone. My concerns have lesson. Last year around this time my wife and i believed i had seasonal depression and are considering this to be true again and could be the cause of how i felt after my surgery. Dr. Joe i thank you for your quick reply and glad there is a site we can post on with our anesthesia concerns. I will let you know how it progreses. Thanks again.

        • DrJoe says:

          Jose,

          Glad you are feeling better. It’s funny that you mention seasonal depression because a friend and I were mentioning that the other day. During this time of year in Dallas, it is dark at around 5:30pm. For our job, we usually get up early to get to the hospital. So during the winter months, it is pitch black when we leave for work and when we get home! So I know how you may feel sometimes :)

          As a favor to us, stop by the forum from time to time. There might be someone who posts there with the same issue you have experienced and you could help them out.

          Thanks again for your time.

  40. Lizzie says:

    Dr. Dave,
    I had surgery (umbilical hernia repair without complications) about 14 months ago. Since then, I have had a severe sleep disorder. I can sleep over 36 hours or a normal 12 hours per night (normal for me). Without cause, I can stay awake more than 40 hours. I have seen sleep specialists, neurologists,psychiatristswho tested for brain tumors, sleep apnea, etc. and prescribed all types of medications with no success. I am affected in every aspect of life: spiritually, cognitively, emotionally, socially, professionally and financially. Is there any link between this severe sleep disorder and anesthesia?

    • Dr Dave says:

      Lizzie,

      Thanks for your question.

      This would be a very unusual side effect of anesthesia. I’m not sure that there would be a direct link between this sleep disorder and anesthesia.

      Did you have any sleep disturbances prior to the procedure you mentioned?

      I hope your doctors figure out what’s going on and you get better soon.

      Dr. Dave

  41. Lyli says:

    Hi,
    I just had surgery 5 days ago, the doctors did a lumbar decompression for my left sciatic. The surgery went well, no pain in my leg. When I woke up the pain was severe so they gave me morphine, I don’t know how much, but enough that the nurse said I max out so she gave me Valium, after some time, I don’t know how long, I remember feeling really strange, the nurse was talking to the doctor and asking me about my blood pressure and heart beats. I looked at the monitor and show 84/4? And heartbeat 54. I’m 43 – w150 h5,9″ in good health, go to gym 5 days a week. I do smoke, about a pack a day, but before surgery it was 18 hours with no smoke. Then they game me something and stated to feel more there, before it was the sensation of flying or really out there. It’s been 5 days, I only took hidroconne on Friday, Saturday and only 2 on Sunday and I’m steel feeling strange. I mean, dizy, me head spins around, really tired, any little activity, my heart feel like overworking, my breathing somehow heavy, kind of nauseous overall just not right. Can you help me? I did call my doctor and the nurse said that sometimes it just takes a little longer, that everyone is different !

    • DrJoe says:

      Hi there,

      Thanks so much for sending us your question. It sounds like your week has been rough!

      I am glad you called your doctor and spoke with the nurse. He or she is right, everyone is different and everyone responds to anesthesia differently.

      My initial thoughts revolve around the medicines you are requiring for control of the pain. Opioid based medicines such as hydrocodone can certainly be effective pain relievers. But they can make some people feel really strange and they can have a variety of side effects.

      I think that as you require less of the hydrocodone, you will feel a little more “back to normal.” But this opinion does not take precedence over your one on one relationship with your personal doctor. Please stay in touch with him or her as you continue to recover.

      Let us know if you are feeling better.

  42. Cynthia says:

    Hello,

    First off, thanks for this site. Really appreciate the time you guys take in responding thoughtfully to everyone’s questions.

    I am 35, exercise, 5′ 10″ 130lbs. Due to longstanding gerd and family history of colon issues, my GI dr wants me to get a colonoscopy and endoscopy. I am a little concerned, ok terrified :), of anesthesia. I have always had low blood pressure, it is often 90/60 and I get dizzy and headache when I stand up. I’ve had this my whole life and doctors have always told me to be thankful it’s not high. I also have a right bundle branch block and mild pulmonary hypertension. My primary care doctor does not feel that these are the result or symptomatic of any cardiac issues. He even things the mild pulmonary hypertension could be a fluke as it was found on echocardiogram which he feels is unreliable indicator of pulmonary hypertension. The GI office where they want to do the procedures is not a hospital and do not have an anesthesiologist on staff. I know I should ask my dr about this but when I went to the appt, I was just expecting perhaps a barium swallow or something less invasive so I didn’t think to bring any records. And it all happened so fast, the nurse was the one telling me about the procedures they wanted me to have done and by then the dr was gone so couldn’t bring up my concerns. Plus the dr is not an anesthesiologist so didn’t know if he would be the best person to ask if those conditions would cause a problem with the anesthesia.

    Thanks again for your advice and counsel!

  43. Cynthia says:

    Guess I didn’t really ask a question. :)Would low blood pressure, right bundle branch block and possible pulmonary hypertension in an otherwise healthy patient, albeit a nervous one, make you think twice as an anesthesiologist about giving anesthesia?

    thanks!!

    • DrJoe says:

      Hi Cynthia!

      Thanks for sending us your question.

      First, I have an important question for you. What in particular is causing you to be terrified of anesthesia? Have you had a bad experience in the past? Has a friend or family member had anesthesia recently?

      It sounds like you and your doctors have been thoroughly investigating your health. That is great news.

      Prior to giving you anesthesia, I would want to look at your other health history, list of medicines, any lab work, your EKG, and perform a brief physical exam. Assuming that there are no other issues other than what you have mentioned, I would feel comfortable giving you anesthesia for the colonoscopy.

      Given your history of low blood pressure, right bundle branch block, and mild pulmonary hypertension, I would mainly want to know how active you are. This is a way of getting at your “exercise tolerance.”

      You mentioned that you exercise, so obviously your exercise tolerance is not limited by the conditions you mentioned above. This would give me further confidence that things will go great when you are asleep.

      Also, it is not unreasonable to ask for an anesthesiologist to be present for your procedure. It is what I would do!

      Let us know how it goes. In fact, you can do us a huge favor and post your experience for others to see in the forum. It will “pay it forward” and help others who might be nervous about anesthesia as well.

      Thanks!
      Dr. Joe

      • Cynthia says:

        Wow Thanks so much for the quick response. I’m not certain why I’m scared of anesthesia, no bad experiences. I had panic disorder and agoraphobia as a child so do have a nervous disposition. Mostly worried that something is wrong with my heart which will only become apparent after sedation. Activity level is moderate. I work full time but my employer allowed me to bring in a standing desk. I go to the gym 3 days a week on my lunch break for a 20 minutes on ellipticals or treadmill and do yoga every night. Also run after my 3 year old the rest of the time. :) Was so scared of sedative’s possible effect on me or my son that I gave birth to him without any pain relief.

        thank you for your advice. I will contact my GI doctor to see if I can have another appointment before my procedure to discuss these things. He seemed very nice just busy. And assuming I don’t chicken out of it will post the results in the forum in hopes it might help others.

        Thank you again and hope you have a wonderful holiday!

  44. Marina says:

    Hello,
    I had my breast surgery with general anesthesia in June and the following one in December. After the first one I had some kind of reaction such as a very red and hot face with burning sensation and the rest of my body felt cold and shivered. My doctor thought it was an antibiotic reaction and change it. It last for 2 days.
    After my second surgery I had the same reaction, but I was taking antibiotic that I took for two weeks after my first episode and after the change , and it was no reaction.
    It looks like it’s not antibiotics reaction, but what is it?

    Thank you in advance.

    • Dr Dave says:

      Marina,

      It may be a good idea to speak with your anesthesiologist to get their perspective on this.

      The anesthesia record for that surgery will contain all the medicines that were given to you during that period. And your anesthesiologist may have further information on: when this reaction was first noticed, were there any other noticeable signs of a reaction, did this reaction affect your vital signs, etc.

      I hope you get to the bottom of this and recover completely from the surgery itself and any reactions/ side effects of medicines given!

      Take care,

      Dr. Dave

  45. Larry McDaniel says:

    Hello,
    On September 25th, I began a laproscopic gall bladder removal. After attempting for one and one half hours without success, the surgeon changed to open surgery. He had graet difficulty as the gall bladder was “welded” to the liver due to large amounts of scar tissue. The surgeon “nicked” my liver and had small bleed. I seemed to be recovering normally, then my left lung collapsed on day number three. Lung collapsed recovered completely within three days. Sent home from hospital on day number eight and seemed to be recovering but total exhaustion with minimal activity.Resting heart rate before and after surgery is 50-52 bpm.Two weeks after surgery, i could stand from a sitting position and heart rate would go from 52 to 120 within 30 seconds without moving at all.ECG is excellent at rest but s wave drops to minus 3 plus during stress test and heart rate went from 54bpm to 172bpm in less than 4 minutes. Recovery time was good.Echo shows mild mummer from aortic valve leak due to rheumatic fever at age eight. I am now 66 years old, was formerly a runnerof 45 miles per week with no problems prior to gall bladder surgery. My question is could three hours of anesthesia cause the heart rate problem and if no heart damage is it likely the problem will go away after a period of time?
    Thanks
    Larry

    • DrJoe says:

      Hi Larry,

      Thanks so much for trusting us with your question. And I am so sorry you had to go through a difficult hospital stay and recovery.

      I will do my best to answer your questions.

      First of all, with regard to your stress test, I would definitely refer to your cardiologist’s interpretation of the results. They are the heart experts especially when it comes to the application, interpretation, and treatment options after a stress test is performed.

      In an otherwise healthy person, though, I would not expect three hours of general anesthesia to remove a gallbladder to cause new problems with the heart rate (that persist after surgery). If a patient has normal heart function, I would expect any changes in the heart rate to return to normal values hours after surgery and anesthesia.

      Unfortunately, with the various details of your heart rate disturbances and stress test you described, I cannot give you a great answer. There are many variables that I would want more information about. And in any case, I would rely on your visit with the cardiologist to get the answers you are looking for.

      Best of luck to you. Let us know if you get to feeling back to normal.

      Dr. Joe

  46. FABIANA SILVA says:

    Hi!!

    I’m soooo happy to have found this website!! Thanks for your patience answering all questions!

    I just discovery I had a missed miscarriage (I was 8 weeks but embryo developed until 5.5 – 6 weeks), and I was giving the options of waiting on my own, taking a pill (cytotec) or D&C. Its being 4 weeks already and no signs I will miscarry on my own. I’m scared to bleed to much on with the pill, since I will be at home with no medical assistance. I know it is a very quickly and uncomplicated surgery, but I’m terrified with the idea of being put to sleep. Is there any other type of anesthesia that could be used with this procedure? My concerns are that I have some frequent palpitations, heart murmur, my blood pressure goes really high when I am anxious, and I have terrible migraines (once I had a local anesthesia to remove my wisdom teeth and I felt like I was going to have a stroke – the strongest pain I have ever felt). I take a 40 mg nadolol daily to prevent migraines, which also keeps my blood pressure normal (100/70 +-). I wish I could lose the fear of the general anesthesia… :(

    • DrJoe says:

      Hi there!

      So happy you were able to find the website as well. We are doing our best to learn more about anesthesia together. Thanks for contributing!

      I cannot imagine what it has been like for you to go through this over the past couple of months. And it seems that you have a very positive outlook despite what you have been dealing with recently.

      Can you let us know more about your fears of general anesthesia? That may help us respond better to your question.

      In our practice, D & C procedures are usually done under general anesthesia. If a patient is against having general anesthesia, I would consider other options if there were no contraindications. The other options would either be epidural anesthesia or spinal anesthesia. Both of these options would keep you out of pain during the procedure, but allow you to be awake.

      The contraindications to spinals are detailed here and for epidurals, are detailed here. But in general terms, there are no contraindications to these techniques in an otherwise healthy female (other than patient refusal).

      I would also need to discuss the situation with the Ob/Gyn doctor, but if they had no preference and there were no contraindications, I would feel comfortable performing a spinal or epidural for this procedure.

      Hope this helps. Will you let us know what happens? And feel free to post your anesthesia experience in the forum to help others out who may be going through the same procedure.

      Dr. Joe

      • FABIANA SILVA says:

        Dr. Joe

        Thanks for answering my question right away! I will have a dr appt today and will ask about my options. My fear of general anesthesia is that my heart will stop or I will have some kind of fibrillation (since I have already some palpitation), or my blood pressure will go down too fast, or I will have some breathing problems, or I won’t wake up after the procedure is done. I have worked inside a surgery center and I also saw some people panicking while receiving anesthesia, and also saying very weird things right after. I guess my fear is about losing control and not being myself.

  47. Karen Hensley says:

    Had surgery on C6-7 yesterday. Dr told me HP dropped so he lessened meds for anethesia. Then he asked if I had any bad dreams. Why that question ? Just curious

    • DrJoe says:

      That’s a great question.

      And the simple answer is that the anesthesiologist was probably just wanting to know if you had any memories of the surgery. He or she is just checking to make sure that your anesthesia experience went well. Part of this experience for general anesthesia is that you don’t have any recollection of what took place during the surgery.

      So if you were asked if you had any bad dreams and you didn’t, then that part of your general anesthetic went great!

      Dr. Joe

  48. Andrew Weist says:

    I just had surgery on the 19th and i’m still feeling dizzy almost like i have been out drinking all night? kind of like a hangover? is this normal???

    • Dr Dave says:

      Andrew,

      The dizziness could be related to the surgery itself (not sure what kind of surgery you had). Since it’s only been a day or so since your procedure, your body may still be processing and eliminating medicines you received surrounding your surgery. And if you are taking any medicines post-operatively, those too may be contributing to your symptoms.

      Unless you have a medical reason not to, making sure you are properly hydrated may also help you get back to feeling “normal”.

      Dr. Dave

  49. Brian Guilfoyle says:

    I had a major knee injury in Feb, 2004. I subsequently underwent 3 separate surguries to repair all of the damage. The first was an arthroscope and I remember waking in that combative state mentioned above ( funny, i am prior military and was a police officer at the time, the injury was in the line of duty ). I then had 2 more surguries, I believe an Ostyotomy?? They broke my leg and changed my stance. This required plates and screws. The 3rd surgery involved removing the plate and screws and implanting carticel. Well, I have had memory impairment, attempted suicide twice and am no longer a Police Officer due to the suicide attempts. Also, I was allergic to most of the post-op meds….Vicodin, Morphine, dilautid.

    • Dr Dave says:

      Bryan,

      I want to first thank you for your service!

      And if you ever have any thoughts of suicide you can call 1-800-273-8255.

      I am sorry to hear you’ve has such a difficult time with multiple surgeries. Hopefully, you won’t need any reason to visit an operating room any time soon.

      God bless you,

      Dr. Dave

  50. naomi says:

    hello,
    I am having surgery this friday on my wrist to remove some cysts. the surgeon said it may take up to an hour. Will I need to be intubated for that?
    Thank you so much for any help!
    :D

    • Dr Dave says:

      Hi Naomi,

      Probably not.

      Sometimes there are medical reasons related to the patient for intubation, such as significant acid reflux.

      And sometimes there are reasons related to the surgery itself: the surgeon requires “muscle relaxation” to facilitate the surgical procedure. This is not typically the case for wrist surgery.

      Unless you have some medical indication related to your personal medical history, my guess is your anesthesiologist will likely use an LMA (laryngeal mask airway).

      I wish you a speedy recovery, and come back and let us know about your experience.

      Dr. Dave

  51. Pattie says:

    I had a simple myringotomy done on both ears which takes no longer then 15 mins per ear. I had the pre op tests so if i were sick they would have canceled the surgery. I felt totally fine and happy on the day of my surgery. I had other myringotomies so i knew it was no problem. My last big surgery was the removal of a Parotid Tumor and gland in 08 and had no problem what so ever. Ok, so i wake up from the myringotomy with an oxygen mask on my face..my chest felt slightly congested like i had a cold. I had the smell of the anesthesia in my nostrils and in my mouth. I knew something wasn’t right. They said i did fantastic and all went perfect but i felt so weird. When i got up i felt much more then the normal fatigue. Left the hosp which is 5 mins from my house and by the time i got there i felt horrible. Went in the house and started throwing up and had the runs. My chest was extremely congested and when i coughed it hurt so bad. I went to bed and in no time i had the shakes and 103 fever and brutal body aches, it was like i had pneumonia, bronchitis and the flu all rolled into one. I had had a flu shot in Oct and a pneumonia shot in 08. My husband was really freaked out so he called the doc and he said it may have been a bad reaction to one of the meds used to put me under..Huh? Well obviously either that or i was given more then i needed for such a short period of time? Or maybe the inhalation mask was not cleaned and was filled with germs? My surgery was on 12/19/12 and i had the absolute worst week so far then i have had in many yrs. My ENT called me the day after surgery and he doesn’t know what could have happened. The myringotomy went completely normal, no problems. So do you have any thoughts?

    • DrJoe says:

      Wow, that sounds like a miserable week to say the least. Sorry you have had such a bad experience!

      My first thought is that this is definitely not a normal reaction to a short general anesthetic, especially since you are otherwise healthy.

      From what you are describing, this does sound a lot like a flu-like illness. I know you want to figure out what caused it, but it is unlikely to be caused by the anesthesia medicines themselves. That is a good thought about the inhalation mask; however, we use a new mask and breathing apparatus for each patient.

      Sometimes for ENT surgeries, we will give a steroid intravenously to help try and decrease swelling. And some steroids can decrease your immunity. But we don’t usually give steroids for myringotomy surgery and I would not expect any problems to occur from a one time dose in a healthy patient.

      Certainly, allergic reactions to anesthesia medicines can occur, but usually these reactions last for only a short time and are limited to a rash or hives. In rare cases, breathing trouble and throat swelling could occur from a medicine reaction.

      There is a life threatening reaction to some general anesthesia medicines. This is called malignant hyperthermia. But since you have had other surgeries of longer duration without complications, I would consider this phenomenon to be unlikely in your case.

      How are you feeling now??

      Dr. Joe

  52. debbie Soccio says:

    Hi

    i am a 48 yo healthy female who has had little of anything sinister, bar a few things. i have had a caesarian, a fibroantanoma, and an operation to release a nerve in my ankle, and a colonoscopy all under general anesthetic. I am a bit slow to come out of the anaesthetic but do not feel sick, light headed or really anthying else. My blood pressure is low (117/68). Last Tuesday i unerwent a manipulation under general anaesthetic to fix frozen shoulder. all appeared to go well – i went into the operating room just before 8 am and I woke up at 8:25am. I felt nausea and light headed. They gsve me some kitrsl via a cannula and then I got dressed. I moved from the bed to a chair and my teeth started to chatter. Theyn, a few shivers in my feet. The nurses said i had the anaesthetic shakes and put a warm blanket over me. Within 15 those little foot shivers had turned into full blown body shakes- every 2-3 min for between 20- 30 seconds each. the ones in my legs were either contained to be,ow my knees or to my hips. The ones that went higher blew my heart rate up to 160, and made me feel like i had been hit with a massive head rush. the heat in my body was terrible. if someone tried to touch my legs mid- shake, all it did was transfer the shake further up my body and cause the muscle to constrict. they gave me (dia…- valium, i think to slow down the seizures)but it didn’t do much good. the shakes kept at the same consistency for 6 hours before reducing to spaces of 5 min apart. There was really no real i prove,ent until about the 48 mark where the shakes started to reduce in frequency and intensity ( some an hour between of 15-30 second duration, often consecutive iboughts of 2-3). it is not Day 7 and i am still shaking (anywhere from 2-3 hours between 3-10 sec, and often 3-4 in a row). I have noticed my legs tingle, and then it is like little zaps before the big zap hits and the whole body shakes). I am exhausted, i find very hard to walk as my legs are like jelly, over exertion seems to bring them on and so too does the walking. They do seem to be worse in the morning when i first wake up and when i lay down to sleep and the body relaxes. The doctors, bar one, have “never” seen this before. The one who has seen it says its is a reaction to propfol…but, then they agrue 5 days out it should be out of my system….so, I have left hospital searched the web for info and can’t find anything thst talks about those cases that last beyond 24-48 hours. Help! It is very debilitating…I am really cross because no one seems to be worried…but, I have never had anything like this before. And, forgot to say I am fully conscious theough them, checked via EEG for epilepsy and that came back clear…

    • DrJoe says:

      This is definitely worrisome and I am sure it is very scary to experience these shakes and pains. And if no one seems to be concerned, I am positive that is not helping you feel any better either.

      To be honest, I have not seen any reaction like this to a general anesthetic, though. The nervous system is amazingly complicated and capable of producing a variety of responses. From what you are describing (and you probably have already done so), I would visit a neurologist as soon as possible. Perhaps they will have some answers for you.

      And if you are feeling worse, please don’t hesitate to go to the emergency room.

      Will you please let us know what you find out? I am very interested to hear when you get better and what any further tests or treatments you are given.

      Dr. Joe

      • debbie Soccio says:

        Hi Dr Joe,

        the shakes are down to under 10 per day (Day 14 post procedure) and mostly happening as I awaken from deep sleep at night. Have had a neurologist check me out – he says he is not worried- easy enough for him to say! I have had an EEG which came back clear (even when I was shaking through it) so that rules out epilepsy. My GP has suggested hypnosis but with Christmas all are on holidays until Wednesday. It sll just seems too coincidental that I go in for a small procedure and come out like this. Next steps, I believe are valium and/or anti depressants…but, I Am not keen on either of these…I am not stressed nor are the tingles (which cause the shakes) in my legs something I am fabricating! I am not worried about these shakes except that they are still coming (12 hour gaps mostly and then consecutive for an couple of hours). And, I just don’t have energy. my body is weary and I am always tired. guess if I am still shaking next week, I will need to insist on seeing the neurologist agsin!

  53. kalia says:

    hi dr,
    I underwent breast lump removal surgery under GA in october and now experiencing worst hair fall. Is this a reaction of GA and will this stop in a period of time.I am very much worried as my hair has gone so thin now.

    Thanks
    Kalia

    • Dr Dave says:

      Kalia,

      I’m sorry to hear about your hair loss.

      This is not a typical side effect of general anesthesia; especially for a relatively short procedure such as a lumpectomy.

      This could be a side effect of medicines you are currently taking. And if you are undergoing a chemotherapy regimen, that could certainly cause the hair loss you are describing.

      Dr. Dave

  54. jean jackson says:

    Doctor, I have talked with a plastic surgeon about a jowl and neck lift. He says 5 hrs under GA. I am 71 yrs old and my memory is showing some decline. I’m in good health.
    What are the chances of losing my cognitive abilities?

    • Dr Dave says:

      Jean,

      It’s impossible to give you a percentage. That you are in “good health” is definitely beneficial.

      Here are some of the things that are associated with an INCREASED risk of Post Operative Cognitive Dysfunction:
      1. Major Surgery (especially Heart Surgery)
      2. Elderly Patients
      3. Patients with alcohol abuse
      4. Patients with multiple medical co-morbidities
      5. Patients with a lower educational level
      6. Patients with pre-existing decline in mental function

      I hope this information proves helpful to you as you make your decision.

      Dr. Dave

  55. Hello, I underwent total knee replacement Nov. 7th. While in rehab for the rest of the month, the clinic did not offer me my usual daily dose of 5,000 mcg of biotin. Now that I’m back home, my hair has been slow to grow. Usually, my roots show 3/4 of an inch after 3 weeks, needing a dye touch-up. After 5 weeks out, my roots are only 1/4 inch showing. My hair dresser said that anesthesia can cause either fast or slow growth that can last an indeterminable length of time. What’s going on? Thanks for studying your specialty so religiously. What a comfort you are!

    • Dr Dave says:

      Hi Valerie,

      Thanks for your interesting question.

      There isn’t a whole lot of information in the anesthesia literature about anesthesia affecting hair growth. But I did find some information and anecdotal evidence of what you describe.

      When you undergo a major operation, such as a knee replacement, your body goes through what we describe as “the stress of surgery”.

      This “stress” can affect hair follicles, causing a slowing down or even stopping of hair growth for some amount of time.

      From the information I gathered, this does not happen often. Hair growth usually SLOWS down. And it seems most people return to their normal growth pattern within about 6 months.

      I hope this info helps, and I hope your hair returns to normal soon.

      Take care,

      Dr. Dave

  56. Connie says:

    Well Happy new Year to you,

    Thank you for this site. I am just a tad worried about yet another general anesthesia surgery. quick history is at age 10 appendectomy for rupture. at 27 abdominal right salpingo oophorectomy for teratoma. I am am 44 now and in October I was again under general anesthesia for D&C with IUD placement. I am now being scheduled for total hysterectomy and left salpingo oophorectomy. Gyn hopes to do TVH and followed by Lap for ovary. She states she will try but may have to just go abdominal for both. I do Have Hashimotos and lower body temp. am aware it takes me a bit longer to wake up but NOW the question… How does being under anesthesia for longer than expected effect recovery? The surgery at 27 caused hypotension and level four shaking. ( felt like I was seizing ) Is their a way to prevent this all over again? and does repeated exposure have any side effects?

    • DrJoe says:

      Happy New Year to you as well!

      Thanks for trusting us with your questions….

      In your case, a longer general anesthetic should not affect your recovery from the anesthesia too much. But this depends on your medical history, the type of surgery you are having, and the “style” of general anesthesia that your anesthesiologist likes to use.

      What I really think you are asking, though, is if all things are equal and you are under anesthesia a little bit longer, will this affect your recovery time? It shouldn’t.

      There are many reasons for hypotension after surgery and anesthesia, some of which include residual anesthesia still circulating through your body, blood loss, and dehydration. The shaking could be a result of actually being cold or secondary to some of the anesthesia medicines wearing off. I would discuss these symptoms with your anesthesiologist on the day of surgery. They can describe to you their specific plan to combat these issues after they learn more about your medical history.

      If the shaking is caused by hypothermia, we have warm blankets to cover you with and heating pads / blankets as well. Also, we can warm the IV fluids running in your IV. If the shaking is a result of the anesthesia medicine wearing off, we sometimes use meperidine (IV medicine) to help with the shivers.

      Repeated exposure to anesthesia does not have well documented side effects outside of the “normal” potential side effects that can occur with any anesthetic.

      I suspect your surgery and anesthesia will go well, especially since you did not have any problems with your recent anesthetic. Don’t hesitate to discuss your concerns with your anesthesiologist. He or she is there to keep you safe before, during, and immediately after your surgery.

      Will you post your experience on our forum after you have surgery? It will help others out who are probably wondering the same questions and are looking to ease their anxiety about anesthesia.

      Good luck!

      Dr. Joe

  57. Olga says:

    Hello, could you please tell me what is a safe period of time between two surgeries under anesthesia? I had plastic surgery one month ago. I don’t have any complaints re anesthesia (it was great job on the part of anesthesiologist. I didn’t feel any discomfort during the surgery nor after ). But I didn’t like the result of the surgery. I would like to redo it asap. I’m very healthy, 50 year old, this is first anesthesia in my life.
    Thank you for your answer

    • DrJoe says:

      That’s a great question and thanks for sending your comment. The simple answer is that you should be okay to undergo general anesthesia again after this one month interval. If you didn’t have any problems with the anesthesia one month ago and nothing has changed about your health history since that time, I would not anticipate any trouble with the anesthesia.

      In fact, we often perform general anesthesia on a patient twice in one day (this is not the norm). So a one month interval should be plenty of time.

      You will need to be fasted prior to your procedure and let your surgeon and anesthesiologist know all of the medicines that you are taking prior to the surgery.

      It is great to hear that your anesthesia experience went well last month. Let us know how it goes this time around.

      Take care!

      Dr. Joe

    • Dr Dave says:

      Olga,

      I’m sorry your surgery did not provide the results you were looking for.

      As far as your anesthesia concerns, what I can tell you is that there isn’t much evidence out there to suggest you are safer waiting a certain amount of time. Especially since you are relatively healthy and are already one month out from surgery.

      When a patient has had a recent medical issue, such as suffering a stroke or a heart attack, we recommend waiting a certain length of time before having surgery (if the surgery is not an emergency) so that the body can recover as much as possible.

      But absent any medical conditions that could/need to be optimized, and having decided that you will proceed with a “redo” procedure, you will only be limited by you & your surgeon’s schedule.

      Best of luck to you this time around.

      Please come back after this surgery is completed and let us know how you did by posting on our forum. I would love to hear your insights comparing the two experiences.

      Dr. Dave

  58. Karen says:

    Thank you for this website and information stream. My Dad 82 years old is considering a colonoscopy and endoscopy to evaluate consistent stomach/bowl issues after the initial colonoscopy polyp removal 2 years ago. At that time he was in ICU for 3 days and in hospital for a week. His prostrate shut down and upon release he went 6 months with a catheter. At this time we have had the clearing of his urethra yet the stomach/bowl discomfort had adversely affected his life. My concern is further anesthesia at this time or convincing him to just deal with the discomfort. Can he expect urinary tract problems should he opt for this look-see procedure?

    • DrJoe says:

      Hi Karen,

      Thanks for sending us your question. I know it is nerve-racking to have a family member who is more mature :) and needing anesthesia. We hope to write a post about this soon.

      I have a few questions: Did your dad have to stay in the ICU because of complications related to the initial colonoscopy? Or was he ill despite undergoing the colonoscopy? Will the same gastroenterologist be performing the colonoscopy and endoscopy this time?

      I don’t think anyone should have to deal with pain or discomfort unless all reasonable diagnostic and treatment options have been exhausted. We provide anesthesia for all types of patients undergoing colonoscopy and endoscopy everyday. So unless your dad has severe underlying disease, he should be able to have a successful anesthetic for his colonoscopy and endoscopy.

      As far as whether or not he should expect urinary tract problems after this procedure, I would not think so. This procedure requires a period of fasting and bowel preparation the day prior, which causes some dehydration. However, the procedure itself is relatively short and he should be able to go home the same day.

      Please get back to us when you can.

      Thanks!

      Dr. Joe

      • Karen says:

        Dr. Joe, Thanks for such a quick response. In anticipation of the procedure, Dad went off blood thinners for 10 days. The procedure went “well” and two polyps were removed. Dad came home from the hospital and 1 hr later went by ambulance directly to ICU. He had to have 12 bags of blood and 6 bags of platlets over a 3 day period. Once moved to a regular room within four days he was unable to urinate. A catheter was inserted and he used single use for approx6 months. Over that time he had 5 urinary tract infections, allergic to some medicines and constant gas,bowl and stomach pain. We did have a wonderful urologist who did briefly put dad under and cleared the urethra. He ended up in Hartford Hospital last January due to pain. All tests were done and no answer to the pain. I then switched to the Hospital gastro group. They are wonderful. They did just about every test on Dad and have been unable to determine the pains source. Since we have attempted to slowly introduce foods and get him moving. We have addressed the depression and that has helped emotionally however the discomfort continues. The Doctor has said the next step is to do an endoscopy and colonoscopy look see to see if he can determine the source. Dad is STRESSED to have these procedures. he is afraid he will be back in the same situation. He does not want to have to go back to catheters and more stomach pain. I hear the gas and watch the discomfort. He takes colace 3 – 4 times a week with milk of magnesia. I believe he has impacted and slow moving bowls? Thanks again. Karen

        • DrJoe says:

          Karen,

          Thanks for the followup. Sounds like both you and your dad have been through a lot. It also seems that your dad’s ICU stay was not a result of his anesthetic for the original colonoscopy and endoscopy. But I can see why he is stressed.

          I would trust that the GI doctors want what is best for your dad. On the day of the endoscopy, make sure to tell your anesthesiologist exactly what occurred before with your dad’s procedure. It will be nice for them if they have the entire picture prior to the anesthetic.

          Best of luck and let us know how it goes. Please consider sharing your experience on our forum as well.

          Take care.

  59. Rosa says:

    Dear Doc,

    General Anesethia has gotten such a bad wrap. I feel. I am healthy from what I know. 40 years old, three kids and I make sure to go to the doctor annually for my physical. I suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I have just started treament as of today b/c I have been trying to cope with this alone for many years but I recently decided on a proceedure called the Fat Transfer for a Brazilian Butt Lift. I chose I board certified Plastic Surgeon for this proceedure in Miami and I reside in ATL. I have three kids and I have all of the sudden developed this irrational, constant fear of having to under go General Anesethia. I keep thinking I will die. Over and over again because I read online about toxcity and strokes while under, heart attacks and tons of other mess. I don’t want to die trying to enjoy a new look but I can’t get past it!!! I was under general anesethia in 2011 for stomach biopsy b/c that discovered I had HPYLORI. I have reached out to the surgeon a million times with questions and have driven the office nuts. :( Can you tell me the true dangers of being under general anesethia for two to three hours for tumscent lipo first and then injected fat into the buttocks after. Your professional opinion is great. Just so you know I just started Zoloft and Xanax today. :/

    • Dr Dave says:

      Rosa,

      Anesthesia is quite safe for most relatively healthy people.

      Obviously, there are risks with any medical procedure and this is true of anesthesia as well. For most, that risk is very small. You can find many of the risks & side effects in this particular post.

      You will also find a list of anesthesia related risks on the consent form you sign prior to having anesthesia.

      Some people have a very strong fear of anesthesia, and you may fall into this category. Perhaps your surgeon can put you in touch with the anesthesiologist (or his group) that will be taking care of you. They may be able to provide you with some reassurance.

      And on the day of surgery, be sure to let him/her know your anesthesia concerns so that they can fully address them.

      Best of luck to you and let us know how you did in our forum.

      Dr. Dave

  60. Sheila says:

    Hi Dr. Dave,
    Thanks for writing this article and answering questions. I had laparoscopic surgery on 1/11/13 (4 days ago) to remove an ovarian cyst, left ovary and fallopian tube, and a pedunculated uterine fibroid. I am 53 years old, 4’11″, 130 lbs. I am a smoker. For 2 days after the surgery I didn’t smoke, and I now am trying to not to smoke but I have had a few cigarettes yesterday and today. My problem right now is burning in one of my nostrils. I started feeling it right after the surgery. I told my surgeon and he said that I will have dry mouth and irritation to the mucosal lining from the anesthetic. As an aside — I don’t think this is relevant — but I did have bad nausea after the surgery which went away after they gave me an anti-emetic. The nausea returned when I got home and drank too much cranberry juice. Then I vomited and felt much better. I started using a saline mist (“Simply Saline”) to help with the burning in my nose. On Sunday 11/13 the burning seemed to be getting worse, so I called the doctor’s office and spoke to the surgeon’s assistant (she is an MD). She said the burning in my nostril is not related to the surgery. To me it seems it must be, but I don’t know. Is there anything I can do for it other than the saline? I feel like I want a salve for it but I don’t know what is safe to put in the nose. The saline helps for a minute or two. The assistant had no suggestions. Another issue is that my ankles are slightly swollen. I mentioned this to the assisant on Sunday, and she said “Well, you did have surgery a couple of days ago”. I’m reluctant to call there again because I felt like I was bothering her and she was unsympathetic (in her defense I did interrupt her Sunday). What do the swollen ankles mean? They’re only slightly swollen, just enough so that the ankle bones are less prominent. My father died of congestive heart failure when he was 67, and I have a normally rapid pulse (like 80 or 90 resting), so I’m a little scared. My BP is good — it was 115/71 the day of the surgery. I do have high chloesterol and triglycerides. I’m going to try to get those down with diet and exercise before I start taking a statin. Thanks! –Sheila

    • Dr Dave says:

      Sheila,

      Thanks for posting your question.

      The burning sensation in one of your nostrils is a strange one and definitely not a typical complaint seen after anesthesia.

      I can understand that perhaps you had some dehydration and mucosal irritation surrounding the surgery, but I would not expect that to continue four days later. If this continues to bother you, I would suggest seeing your primary care physician. They can get your full story and then take a look inside your nose.

      As for swollen ankles, if it’s happening bilaterally (both sides), it can be an issue with the heart (such as heart failure), the liver, or the kidneys. Again, it may be wise to see your primary care doctor if these symptoms persist to figure out what may be significant and what is not.

      Best of luck to you.

      Dr. Dave

      • Sheila says:

        Thanks, Dr. Dave! I have to find a PCP. It just occurred to me that I didn’t look at my ankles before the surgery. I may not have looked at them for a week or more beforehand. And no one examined me without my socks on, so no one looked at them. I wore hospital socks before, during and after the procedure, so no one looked at them that day. For all I know I had swollen ankles before the surgery. I had blood tests a few days before, and the morning of the surgery. Would early stages of heart failure show up in a blood test? I feel very stupid for not examining myself before the surgery. I have to say that there were things about my surgery that made me feel like part of an assembly line. They asked me a lot of the same questions over and over (name, date of birth, procedure, etc), and I thought this was a good thing. Better to be safe than give the wrong procedure to someone. But amidst all those questions no one looked at my ankles. Do you think this is a problem? After the surgery my bladder hurt but I couldn’t pee. I’m short and there was no footrest for the toilet, so my feet weren’t flat on the floor and I couldn’t relax my muscles. My doctor said my bladder was full and if I didn’t pee they would catheterize me. He said, “They pumped you full of fluids during surgery”. (“They?” Wasn’t he one of “them”?) Finally I peed 100 cc. It didn’t feel like a lot to me. I did feel like I emptied my bladder, but it still hurt, so I asked the nurse how much fluid I’d had intravenously, and she said “look at the bag”. I looked at the bag and there was 600 cc in it, so I assume I had 400 cc IV during the surgery. The nurse didn’t know if that was the only bag I’d had, so I’m not sure. But I don’t think my bladder was full. I think it hurt because it was catheterized during surgery. I think I was dehydrated from not having anything to drink from midnight the night before. The doctors and staff are so busy that they can’t do the simple things like look at a chart to see how much fluid I’ve had or give footrests to short people for the toilet. In the PACU the nurse gave me 100 micrograms of fentanyl after I started to cry because I couldn’t pee and my bladder hurt. I don’t think I needed so much fentanyl. I think I needed to drink more and pee. I did have a lot of pain all over my body, but she didn’t ask me why I was crying or if I wanted more pain meds. Then they wheeled me at high speed into the next recovery room, and that’s where the nausea became terrible. Thankfully the nurse there gave me anti-nausea medication. I could go on, but I’ve complained enough to you! I know I have only the patient’s perspective and there are things I don’t know that might explain some of the things that happened.

  61. Jerryl Lynn Rubin says:

    Hello,
    I had a same day outpatient surgery procedure two days ago where they removed a supraclavicular lymph node for a biopsy, i was given versed and fentanyl; I was given the proper amount for my body weight, but I hardly ever take meds or pain meds; and I had a reaction where I was oversedated and became”unresponse” and did not initiate breathing adequately so the anesthesiologist reversed my meds with Narcan and another reversant for the Versed, then they gave me oxygen and had to keep me in the hospital cause my oxygenation did not meet minimal criteria of 90 % even 4 hours after surgery; they kept me overnight in hospital on oxygen cannula in my nose; I got fluid in mylungs but eventually it cleared up; now it is about 45 hours after the surgery and I still feel so dazed and slowed down, my breathing is fine; the anesthesiology I called today to check in says that maybe I just must metabolize these medicines very slowly so it will take a while to feel back to my normal physical energy and mental clarity; he said only way to increase metabolism rate is drinking water and some walking. Do you have any feed back or suggestions? l. to help get the medicines out of my body: and 2. what if I need general anesthesia in the future and am at risk of such a reaction when they give me the amount needed to sedate me adequately and I have a similar reaction? Thanks so much! Jeri.

    • Dr Dave says:

      Thanks for your question Jeri.

      I don’t have any other suggestions to help you “metabolize” faster. Hopefully, this will continue to improve for you.

      If you are in need of anesthesia again, definitely let your anesthesiologist know of this experience. It will be helpful for them to know you are sensitive to Versed and Fentanyl.

      Did your anesthesiologist mention anything about laryngospasm? From what you are describing, it sounds like this could have occurred in your case. Laryngospasm, a condition where the vocal cords close and prevent air flow, can happen if there is something that irritates the vocal cords (secretions, blood, gastric fluid, etc).

      When this happens, it becomes difficult to breathe and get oxygen into the lungs. As a person tries to take a breath against this closure at the vocal cords, the forces generated in the chest can cause fluid to be drawn into the lungs. Sometimes this requires a breathing tube to be placed to assist with “breathing” until the fluids in the lungs can clear.

      I hope this information is useful to you. And if you need anesthesia again, let your anesthesiologist know as much as you can about this experience.

      Hope you feel better soon.

      Dr. Dave

  62. Jeannie says:

    Hi. My name is Jeannie and I’m 34. I will be having nerve decompression surgery in a few months for occipital neuralgia. My neurologist told me this is a four-hour surgery. The only other surgery I had was a D&C six years ago and that went well. One of my concerns is that my blood pressure has been a little high (120/86, the last time I checked) ever since I experienced a trauma two years ago. I’m also concerned because I did have issues with PTSD for about a year and now I’m extremely nervous about the surgery. Is my previous experience with anesthesia a good indicator of how I’ll react to anesthesia the second time? Am I in the clear for an allergic reaction? How likely is it that I will kick the bucket? Just to let you know, I am otherwise in good health. I had blood work done about a year ago and everything was 100% (I’m 5’2′ 117 Ibs). I appreciate any insight you can give me. Thanks.

    • DrJoe says:

      Hi Jeannie!

      Thanks for contacting us. First of all, your blood pressure of 120/86 isn’t terribly elevated. In fact, it just barely falls into the American Heart Association’s prehypertension range. Check out this page for further details about hypertension.

      When evaluating a patient with hypertension, we look for signs that elevated blood pressure has led to other systemic problems (i.e. coronary artery disease, kidney disease, etc). Also, we try to evaluate how well the blood pressure is controlled by medicine, diet, or otherwise. In your case, it would helpful to find ways to optimize your blood pressure, but a blood pressure of 120/86 in a someone of your size and health would not concern me.

      The fact that you had an uneventful anesthetic 6 years ago is a helpful and reassuring piece of your medical history. It makes it more unlikely that you would have a life threatening reaction to anesthesia (which is rare). However, I would rest easily knowing that your anesthesiologist will be by your side to monitor you for any signs of allergic reactions. And he or she will be ready to treat any disturbances if they should arise.

      Now when you ask me how likely are you to kick the bucket, I would say it is highly unlikely :) In healthy individuals undergoing non-cardiac surgery, the odds of death under general anesthesia are extremely low.

      My recommendation would be to ask your surgeon if you can talk to your anesthesiologist prior to the surgery. This will probably help ease your mind a bit as you get ready for the procedure.

      Best of luck to you! Please come back and let us know how you did. And consider posting your results in the forum for others to see and learn from as well.

  63. Val says:

    I have had 5 anaesthetics in 7 months, I feel confused, cannot think properly, I am very teary and I am very tired, have no appetite, my last operation was October 2012 – should I be over the anaesthetic by now.

    • DrJoe says:

      It sounds like you are having a really tough time. Were all of your surgeries under general anesthesia? How recently was your most recent surgery?

      I would expect the anesthesia medicines to have worn off by this point. However, everyone responds differently to anesthetics. In general though, I would expect the effects of anesthesia to “wear off” within 24 hours.

      Hope this helps….

  64. Kathy Abbott says:

    I’m so glad to have found this website. I am scheduled for surgery to repair an evulsed achilles tendon in 2 days. I am a 51 year old female, no prior surgeries other than wisodm teeth removal years ago. I am beyond apprehensive about my surgery but appreciate the information you’ve given on your website. Thanks!

    • Dr Dave says:

      Kathy,

      I’m glad we can provide some measure of comfort for you leading up to your surgery.

      I want you to know that for most people anesthesia is very safe. Your anesthesiologist is your advocate and will be monitoring you very carefully throughout your procedure.

      Let him/her, and the rest of the OR team, know about your apprehension and they’ll do everything they can to help make the experience as stress-free as possible.

      We’ll be saying a little prayer for you here on this site, and feel free to come back and update us on your experience once you are through your surgery.

      The best place to do that is our forum.

      Looking forward to hearing back from you!

      Dr. Dave

  65. IK says:

    I just had a gastric band revision and I woke up with the left front tip of my tongue numb. Will the feeling ever come back in my tongue? and what can be the cause?

    • DrJoe says:

      Thanks for your questions and I am sorry you are having this problem with your tongue.

      The lingual nerve provides sensation to the tip of your to tongue. There is one on the left and right. It sounds as if your left lingual nerve may be affected.

      Minor nerve deficits tend to resolve within a few weeks. Rarely are they permanent. And time is usually what is needed for treatment.

      Nerve injuries are a very rare side effect of intubation for general anesthesia. I would discuss this with your surgeon if it is persistent. However, I suspect it will resolve without treatment over the coming weeks.

      Take care. I hope you feel better soon.

  66. Kata says:

    Hi, I’d be interested in the possible risks and side effects of multiple general anesthesia:
    My dad is 63, he is overweight and he has a (starting) diabetes, which he controlled so far only by diet and exercise. He underwent a surgery 3 weeks ago to remove an enlarged thyroid tissue. They had to cut the breast bone, and it turned out that they couldn’t fix it well. So today he is being operated again to make sure that all liquid is kept removed from inside that area, and next week again to fix the bone. Both surgeries have to be done in general anesthesia. He has received some insuline to keep control of his blood sugar levels, which now increased due to the stay in hospital (no exercise etc.). I’m quite worried about these repeated surgeries in such a short time. Apart from the general risk factors (diabetes, overweight), I’m also worried that he is generally weaker now through this prolonged period of “recovery”, while his bone couldn’t heal.
    I know these surgeries must be done, but some information would still help to know what we can expect.

    • DrJoe says:

      Kata,

      Thanks for your questions. First of all, I congratulate you on your efforts to take great care of your dad.

      The combination of being overweight and having diabetes that is not well controlled, can certainly make someone feel weak. And it is possible that this type of surgery could lead to some decrease in thyroid function. Although from your description, it sounds that perhaps a thymoma was removed.

      I would expect your dad to take a little longer than most to recover completely from the effects of the general anesthetic. I say this primarily because of his weakened state. But I can’t say this for certain. We take of patients who have had multiple general anesthetics, and some recover quicker than others.

      What I would recommend is trying to make sure your dad’s diabetes is as well controlled as possible. And I would also suggest you share your concerns with the surgeons (which I am sure you have). Also, see the post about being scared of anesthesia for another tip.

      Best of your luck to your dad. Let us know how everything turns out.

      • Kata says:

        Thanks a lot for your quick reply!

        The surgery on Monday went well. He only felt sick after the anesthesia for a while. He was fine up to now, but today he feels very weak. The blood test is not very promising (I don’t know the expression for the situation when blood cells sink too fast, probably referring to inflammation?)

        Now it turns out that he will be operated in anesthesia every 3-4 days (!), to replace that sponge-like material that should lead the liquid away from the broken area. Only when the microbiological tests are fine, will the bone itself be fixed, in 2-3 weeks. Quite tough. I have never heard of anyone undergoing so many operations and anesthesia in such a short time.

        Anyway, I’m really thankful for your recommendation! We will do our best to get a proper diabetes-treatment in the hospital asap. The surgeons and nurses are well informed, yet they do not seem to be concerned so far. :-( We have to take the initiative…

        Thank you again for your precious advice!
        Kata

        • DrJoe says:

          Kata,

          It sounds like your dad now has a wound vac system to help heal the wound. Depending on the area, these can be painful to replace every few days and so patients need general anesthesia for the replacements. But many surgeons speak very highly of this method of helping a wound close.
          I am sorry he has to have so many procedures performed but I think you are in good hands :)

  67. Chelsea says:

    Hi! I just have a quick question and I don’t know if you can answer it or not because I’m not sure what was given to me, but I had surgery on my knee this morning and I went into the OR, and one of the doctors in there put something into my IV and all the sudden I had extreme pain in the back of my neck and head…it hurt to move at all…I told them woah, my head hurts! They were like your head hurts…? Then he put the mask over my face and told me that the mask was oxygen and to take a couple of deep breaths…and then I was knocked out. So I’m not sure if I was breathing in the anesthesia through the mask and he gave me something I don’t remember through my IV, or it was given through my IV and I had an allergic reaction to it even though it doesn’t run in my family and he just had me breathing some oxygen through the mask a couple times. How would I know if I had an allergic reaction to it? When I was waking up from the anesthesia I was fine, no pain…it was just right before I knocked out. I’m not sure what to think!

    Thanks!

    • DrJoe says:

      Thanks for sending us your question.

      Some anesthesiologists like to start giving IV sedation medicine as they are placing monitors on you (blood pressure cuff, EKG stickers, pulse oximeter) once you are in the operating room. Then the next step is usually to have you breathe oxygen through a mask. This fills up your lungs with oxygen before you are placed under general anesthesia.

      One of these IV sedating medicines that is often given just before the “knockout” dose, is a narcotic (i.e. Fentanyl, Dilaudid). But this medicine takes a few minutes to start to have an effect. It would not be typical for these medicines to cause the immediate pain as you described. Other times, a benzodiazepine such as midazolam or Versed may be injected into your IV. Once again, this medicine takes a few minutes to have an effect, though.

      One of the medicines we often give to get you all the way off to sleep is Propofol. Sometimes this medicine will cause a burning sensation in your IV. This seems to occur more often in IVs that are smaller and in the hand.

      Another medicine some anesthesiologists use to induce general anesthesia is Etomidate. It can cause involuntary muscle movements, pain on injection in your IV, and seizure-like activity.

      Because the discomfort happened seconds before you fell asleep, it leads me to believe you had a reaction to one of the “induction” agents for general anesthesia (perhaps Propofol or Etomidate). But of course I cannot say this for certain. It is not a specific reaction I have seen before.

      If you require anesthesia in the future, I would mention this experience to your anesthesiologist. Other than the obvious discomfort you felt, though, it does not sound like this was a life threatening reaction or an allergy.

      I hope this helps. Let us know if you remember any other details of the experience :)

      • Chelsea says:

        Okay so a nurse from the hospital called me this morning to see how I was feeling and I asked her what they gave to me before I fell asleep because I told her I got this like, extremely bad pain in my neck and the back of my head, and she told me it was just the anesthesia…she said as long as I felt fine when I woke up I didn’t have a reaction or anything…I made an appointment with my orthopedic specialist 10 days from now and I’m going to ask him, because I’m not too sure. I remember them telling me what it was but I don’t remember WHAT it was. Do you think he’d know?

        • DrJoe says:

          Your orthopedic specialist might know the name of the drug, especially if the anesthesiologist discussed it with him. But if you really want to find the answer sooner, I would call the hospital. Ask for the preoperative area or the preoperative clinic. Let that department know what you are looking for and they should be able to help you. For instance, they could look up the record of your surgery or even contact the anesthesiologist.

          Please let us know what you find out.

  68. Rachael says:

    Thanks for posting this Dr. Dave. Its eased off some of my fears. I’m about to have laparoscopic surgery to remove a endometrioma this Feb. 15 and I’m really scared I might not wake up or i might wake up in the middle of my surgery. This is my first ever under general anesthesia. I have asthma and GERD. In fact I’m so scared of it that when I had my 2 impacted wisdom teeth removed I did it under local anesthesia.

    The problem is i also have a history of not responding to sedatives very well. I recently had an endoscopy and after giving me the sedative (Midazolam) I was only sleepy for a few seconds then was fully awake just as they were putting the endoscope in. I know that its supposed to put the patient in a conscious sedated state but I was awake and had to be held down for the duration of the procedure. I remember everything and I’m completely traumatized by that incident.

    • Dr Dave says:

      Rachael,

      First off, I’m sorry to hear you had a traumatic endoscopy.

      While I can’t speak specifically about your case (I don’t have all the details), endoscopy procedures can be performed one of two basic ways: with a sedation nurse or with an anesthesiologist. A sedation nurse does not have the extensive anesthesia training an anesthesiologist has and will typically provide much “lighter” sedation.

      I suspect this may have been the case with you and your experience with Versed (midazolam). You may not be that sensitive to this medicine, or possibly, whomever was taking care of you did not feel comfortable giving you more medicine. It’s not only the type of medicine you were given, but also the dosing and timing of how the medicine was given.

      And this appears to NOT have been optimal in your endoscopy experience.

      In the future, should you need an endoscopic procedure, you can request to have your anesthesia provided by an anesthesiologist. He/she will be able to safely provide a “deeper” level of anesthesia.

      I want to also provide you with some assurance that anesthesia is generally safe.

      Please let your anesthesiologist (and other hospital staff) know of these fears on your day of surgery, and they will do all they can to help alleviate them.

      You can also take a look at this recent post by Dr. Joe about being “Scared of Anesthesia”.

      I have also written a post about Awareness During Anesthesia.

      I’m glad you are finding this site useful. I’ll be keeping you in my thoughts come Feb. 15.

      Please come back to our forum and let us know about your experiences.

      Dr. Dave

      • Rachael says:

        Thanks Dr. Dave. Please know that having this information up for people to read is SO VERY helpful in calming some of our fears. Thank you. :)

  69. larry gaboudra says:

    I had orthoscopic knee surgery on thursday and had anesthesia..its now saturday…on friday i noticed I now have a twitching now under my left eye..do you think this is a side effect of anesthesia?

    • DrJoe says:

      Larry,

      This is not likely to be a side effect of general anesthesia. Very rarely, corneal abrasions can occur when a patient is anesthetized for a procedure. But this is not what you are describing. If you are having any new trouble with your vision, eye pain, drainage from your eye, or fever, please see an eye physician for further evaluation. Thanks for sending us your question. I hope this helps.

  70. Oriana Elk says:

    Hi Dr Joe,

    I am hoping you can shed some light on what happened to my husband this week while undergoing a standard gastroscopy. He is a healthy 50 year old with slightly low blood pressure and has not required any medical procedures for over 20 years.

    Not long into the procedure, he had a laryngeal spasm and his oxygen levels dropped to 60%. The medical team were unable to recover these levels quickly and thus aborted the procedure. He complained of left chest pain on awakening and they discovered he had a crackle in his chest from which aspirational pneumonia was diagnosed from chest x-rays.

    He subsequently spent 3 days in hospital on intravenous antibiotics.

    I would like to know whether you believe he had a reaction to the anaesthesia and the aspiration was incidental when they were trying to remove the equipment, or whether it is more likely that the aspiration occurred due to the spasm and how prolonged oxygen levels fit into this scenario?

    The procedure will need to be repeated as no results were obtained. Was he just an unlucky one in thousands or is this more likely a reaction to general anaesthesia? Do you have any links you could share with me about allergies to drugs used? He has no known allergies other than a sensitivity to latex and rarely drinks alcohol as it causes a red rash over his neck and face.

    Thanks

    Ori

    • DrJoe says:

      Ori,

      Thanks for your question. Hopefully, I can provide you with a good answer.

      Laryngospasm is a issue often encountered by anesthesiologists. It is the term used for complete closure of the vocal cords. This means that no air can go in or out of the windpipe into the lungs. Most often, we see it as a result of blood, secretions, gastric contents, or mucus touching the vocal cords in an anesthetized patients. Also, if a patient is under “light” anesthesia, it may occur more frequently.

      Basically, we cannot predict when it will occur. But as you can imagine, when laryngospasm happens, seconds matter. Usually, standard measures “break” the laryngospasm (this involves a jaw thrust and manually providing air through a mask into the patients airway). But if these measures do not rapidly break the laryngospasm, then the patient may need to be intubated.

      And this is precisely why anesthesiologists are usually asked to take care of patients for endoscopy procedures. Any foreign object such as a endoscope that is placed into the airway has the potential to cause laryngospasm. And gastric contents that are refluxed into the the airway and onto the vocal cords can cause the problem as well.

      So laryngospasm is not an allergy or really even a reaction to anesthesia. It just happens sometimes and can definitely be more likely to occur during an upper endoscopy. It is a known risk, but the odds that the laryngospasm is so severe that it requires intubation during an endoscopy is rare.

      In your husband’s case, it is likely that the procedure itself (no one’s fault as I mentioned) and the combination of anesthesia caused laryngospasm to occur. And in his case, the laryngospasm was difficult to break requiring cancellation of the procedure.

      I am sure that the GI specialist will mention this to the next anesthesiologist taking care of your husband. But please mention the laryngospasm yourself as well to the anesthesiologist. It sounds like the prior anesthesiologist did a great job of protecting your husband from even more serious consequences of the laryngospasm during his endoscopy.

      I hope this helps. Let us know what happens with his next endoscopy.

  71. Stephanie says:

    Two weeks ago, I underwent general anesthesia for a laproscopic adrenalectomy. Ever since the surgery, my taste has been distorted and I’ve had really bad breath. My urine also seems to have a stronger than normal odor. For a few days after the surgery, I could hardly eat at all because food tasted so repulsive, particularly sweets. Even fruits were disgusting. It is better now, but still off. I have learned to deal with it enough to eat relatively normally. Other than my taste, breath, and smelly urine, my recovery has gone very well. Is it possible that this is due to anesthesia?

    Also, I suffered a massive stroke 2 months before the surgery. My voice was almost back to normal before the surgery, but it seems to be harder to dictate now. It might just be my imagination, but can anesthesia cause regression in stroke recovery? I am only 30 and was in excellent health other than the faulty adrenal gland which caused the stroke. Thanks for writing this article!

    • Dr Dave says:

      Stephanie,

      There’s not much information in the literature about change in taste following anesthesia. Anecdotally, I’ve seen some patients complain about this. It seems that most have their taste return to what it was prior to surgery within about a month.

      Strokes can be complicated and discussing them requires more than the space provided within a comment. Please check out this article I’ve written about: Strokes & Anesthesia.

      I hope this information helps. If you have further questions, I’d be happy to answer them in our forum (where the format allows other members of this community to contribute as well).

      Stay Healthy,

      Dr. Dave

  72. Michelle says:

    My elderly Dad had surgery to remove a malignant tumor on his tongue in Sept. 2012. During the surgery his blood pressure “bottomed out” and a large amt. of medication was given to him to get it back up. Since the surgery, he wakes up EVERY NIGHT (never missed a night) terrified, and crying. He has to get up for a couple of hours and read or some other activity to be able to go back to sleep. He says he doesnt know what he is afraid of, but has never felt such fear. Im at a loss as to how to help him. He says the Dr. tells him this is not uncommon.

    • DrJoe says:

      Michelle,

      Thanks for trusting us with your question. It sounds like both you and your dad have been going through a very tough time recently….

      From what you mentioned, I would not expect that the anesthesia medicines are causing your dad to feel these fears. However, all patients respond differently to surgery, anesthesia, and the stress of being ill. For more on post-operative cognitive decline, see this post. Also, please read the comments at the conclusion of the post.

      But I realize you are wanting to know how to help him through this time. I am not an expert in psychiatry or psychology by any means. As a physician, though, I would recommend a multi-disciplinary approach, starting with a consultation with a physician psychiatrist. These are experts in helping folks through tough times such as the one your dad is having. Also, you could meet with your pastor or search the internet for support groups of individuals who have had the same type of surgery.

      If at any time you feel that your dad’s safety is in question, please take him to the emergency room for an evaluation. He may need medical attention right away.

      I know this is not the biggest help to you as this is not my area of expertise. But this is what I would recommend to my own family member if they were going through the same type of situation.

      Let us know what happens. Also visit the forum as some others have written about their experiences as well.

  73. lynne says:

    I had surgery on my hand last Wednesday which was very succesful however since Saturday I have been suffering from extrene indigestion and dull pain below my ribcage which is also keeping me awake at night I have been to the chemist who recommended gaviscon which really is not having any affect I am also extremelt tired could these symtons be due to the affects of anaesthetic You reply would be grestfully appreciated

    • Dr Dave says:

      Lynne,

      Thanks for sharing your questions.

      Indigestion can result from many things. The top two “new things” that jump out in my mind following surgery would be: side effects from any new medicines you are taking and/or a response to the “stress of surgery”.

      Ribcage pain following surgery would make me think about atelectasis. This is a condition that is not uncommon following surgery, where a portion of the lungs does not properly inflate. This can cause some shortness of breath, low oxygen saturation, and the type of pain you describe. When this occurs patients are encouraged to do deep breathing and coughing exercises. An incentive spirometer is also used to help improve lung function.

      It’s impossible to say exactly what’s going on specifically in your case, but it may be wise to consult your physician if your symptoms don’t improve soon.

      Wishing you the best,

      Dr. Dave

  74. Dear Dr. Dave, I have recently had, first, a parotidectomy, and second cataract surgery in both eyes. The parotid gland surgery lasted 2 1/2 hours. The cataract surgery of course only lasted about 10 minutes each. But, I would swear that when I looked at my face the day after surgery, my skin looks even more dry and wrinkled than it was before. I am 77 yrs. old, but I have always been told I had beautiful skin and few wrinkles for my age, now it looks suddenly 10 years older and more wrinkled. Could this be a side effect of anesthesia? I mean, it is a drastic and noticeable difference. I am facing 5 more surgeries including hip replacement and knee replacements and carpal tunnel surgery. Am I going to end up looking like The Mummy? Couldn’t find an explanation of this anywhere on the web. Please give me your opinion. Thanks

    • Dr Dave says:

      Ms. Castile,

      Thank you for your question.

      I have not seen any mention in the anesthesia literature of wrinkled skin as a side effect of anesthesia.

      What comes to mind is that perhaps the fasting that is required prior to surgery has led to some dehydration and the skin changes you noticed. If that’s the case, this should not be a permanent change.

      All the best to you, and I hope that your beautiful skin returns soon. :)

      Dr. Dave

  75. Wilma Fudge says:

    Hi Dr Dave, my sister who has MS has to have a Cone Biopsy procedure which will require general anaesthesia, can you advise the period of time that it takes for the body to eliminate all residual anaesthetic? She made mention that someone told her possibly a period of up to 15 months?

    • Dr Dave says:

      Thanks for your question, Wilma.

      Most anesthetics will be eliminated from the system within about a day or so (with normal liver and kidney function).

      What research on postoperative cognitive dysfunction is showing is that some people may have neurologic effects for a longer time after surgery and anesthesia. This may be what you are referring to and I touch on that subject in this article (Post Operative Cognitive Dysfunction).

      I wish your sister a safe and speedy recovery.

      Dr. Dave

  76. Judith says:

    I am a healthy, active 62 year old non-smoker scheduled for DIEP surgery. I am having a capsular contracture (breast implant) removed, and an explant with breast reduction done at the same time. I have been told surgery will be anywhere from 6 to 8 hours. I have had lots of history of post op nausea in the past, and extreme nausea to codeine. What can I expect from such a long anesthesia? I am extremely nervous about nausea, dry heaves and actual vomiting while recovering from the abdominal surgery.

    • Dr Dave says:

      Judith,

      It sounds like you have several risk factors for post operative nausea/vomiting: history of previous n/v (PONV), long surgery, and breast surgery.

      Be sure to talk to your anesthesiologist about this beforehand and let him know you are at risk.

      There are several medicines he/she can give you in hopes of minimizing and/or preventing PONV. And there may also be some things that can be done in the way your anesthesia is administered (types of anesthetics given) that may help minimize this risk. Of course, your anesthesiologist will come up with your anesthetic plan after doing a comprehensive review of your medical history and a focused physical exam.

      Best of luck to you, and be sure to let your anesthesiologist know of all your anesthesia concerns!

      Dr. Dave

  77. Katharine Nowlin says:

    Hi Doctor Dave. My 12 mo th old son recently underwent surgery to insert tubes in his ears. He was put under through the use of a face mask. Following the surgery the next 35 hours he seemed fine. Then he all of the sudden started screaming and was not able to calm for quite a while. Instantly his left cheek turned beet red while the rest of his face stayed normal color, but resolved itself within an hour. The next two hours following he had some blood vessels in his left eye break, followed by redness around his eye and swelling. We went to the ER, but they diagnosed him as ‘fine’. Within three hours after leaving the ER the swelling and redness went away and he resumed his normal demeanor.
    My question is, could any of this be related to the anesthetic? I originally believed it was a result of the tubes, but his ears were checked and the ER doctor stated they looked good, and upon speaking with the doctor who performed the surgery I was informed that these symptoms wouldn’t be associated with the tubes.
    So what are your thoughts? I have tried to research it every way I can think of, but come up with nothing matching these symptoms.
    I don’t believe things like that happen for no reason, as the ER would like me to believe.
    Any insight would be helpful!
    Thanks!
    Katharine

    • David Draghinas says:

      Katharine,

      Thanks for your question. I’m sure it’s tough seeing these changes in your little one and not knowing what’s going on.

      The symptoms you describe don’t sound anesthesia related. Most kids have ear tubes placed under mask anesthesia. Usually, an IV isn’t placed. You can read more about it in this post by Dr. Joe.

      Since your son’s symptoms seem to come and go, perhaps you can video record him if you should see the symptoms again. You can then show it to his physicians and that may help figure out what is going on and if it’s something you should be concerned about.

      All the best to you and your family.

      Dr. Dave

  78. Carla says:

    Hi,
    I know your website is mainly about anesthetics but I would like to ask you a question about a bone fracture. My 11 year old daughter broke her arm in two places- the growth plate and radius 2 years ago and it has been giving her alot of trouble since. She had it manipulated while under a general anesthetic and was in a cast for 5 weeks. She then got physio for a few weeks and that seemed to strengthen it up a bit. She has got an m.r.i that was recommended by her consultant and that shows nothing out of the ordinary. I do realise that breaks do take a while to heal but she is fed up of having so much pain. It never swells up or nothing unusual happens. If you would advise to go down the surgery route please let me know and what would be involved. I would just like to know if you could think what the cause could. It prevents her from during activities she enjoys.

    Thanks!
    Carla

    • David Draghinas says:

      Hi Carla,

      Thanks for your question. I’m sorry to hear your daughter is still having so much trouble with her arm since her injury.

      Unfortunately, I can not give you any advice on the need for surgery. This is not my area of expertise and I would be doing you, and your daughter, a dis-service by making any such recommendation.

      My advice is to have her seen by an orthopedic surgeon. He/she will be able to get the entire medical history, see how your daughter has done since the injury, examine MRI’s and any other imaging studies, and give you their opinion on the best way to proceed.

      If surgery ends up being recommended, we do have some information on the site regarding pediatric anesthesia:
      1. Pediatric Anesthesia
      2. Short peds anesthesia video

      We would also be very happy to answer any other questions you have on kid’s anesthesia (or the day of surgery type stuff) in our forum or in the comments section of those posts.

      I hope your little girl gets better real soon.

      Dr. Dave

  79. Jazmine says:

    Hi I had keyhole surgery to remove my gallbladder a week ago due to severe gallstones. I’m 19 healthy non smoker but before the surgery my blood pressure was perfect at about 120/70. Then when I came out it dropped to 99/55 and the nurse said I have low blood pressure. It’s been a week since my operation and I still have low blood pressure and now I am experiencing panic and anxiety attacks. Could the low blood pressure have something to do with this?

    • Thanks for sending us your question.

      How low are your blood pressure readings? If they are in the 99/55 range as you mentiomed before, I would not be so concerned if you are 19 and otherwise healthy. In fact, I would not consider 99/55 to be a low blood pressure for you one week out from your operation (if your normal was 120/70).

      Have you experienced these panic and anxiety attacks before? Certainly the stress of having surgery is difficult, but have there been other added stresses in your life recently? Any medication changes? Increased caffeine intake or changes in your diet? These are some things I would think about at this point.

      I really hope you feel better soon. Please let your doctor know if these attacks are keeping you from being able to do your normal activities in life. They may recommend further evaluation and treatment.

      • Jazmine says:

        I have never had panic attacks. They usually happen at night and it means I can’t sleep. My diet changed due to the gallstones and the pain and heartburn afte eating certain foods.
        I was diagnosed with hemolytic anemia in January of this year with my blood count dropping to 63 from 126 in a matter of two weeks which was due to glandular fever.
        Could the attacks just be the stress from the past couple of months and finally not being sick?

        • Thanks for getting back to us. Stress can be a cause for panic attacks but I don’t want to steer you wrong. I know you are trying to find answers (I would do the same thing), but this is something that I would recommend discussing with your personal physician. They can review your medical history and try and get more answers.

          But I dont think your blood pressure or the anesthesia are the likely cause. I hope you feel better real soon :)

  80. Jen says:

    Hi. Had a D & C on Thursday about 2 pm. Very shaky upon coming out of anesthesia . Threw up everything about 10 pm that night. Today is Sat I’m not having any pain or bleeding but have 100 * fever. Called covering doctor she said that isn’t a fever — my temp usu runs about 97.5. She said it is most likely from the anesthesia — does that sound normal? Thank you

    • Jen says:

      Fever again last night.

      • Jen,

        So sorry it took a bit to respond back. Hope you are feeling better this afternoon.

        If you are now several days out from the general anesthesia, it would be very unlikely for your fever to be a result of the anesthesia. There is a life threatening reaction to some general anesthesia medicines known as malignant hyperthermia. But this involves very high fever and requires you to remain hospitalized while it is treated.

        In your case, without knowing further details, I would think of conditions such as wound infection, pneumonia, urinary tract infection, and a viral gastroenteritis as potential causes of your fever. The fever is unlikely to be a result of the anesthesia.

        Hope this helps. Please come back and let us know how you are feeling.

        • Jen says:

          Thank you for the reply. Went to the Dr. today –they gave me 7 days of Augmentin..just in case. But I just feel lousy .. feel very wiped out…nausea coming and going.. pain in joints, neck, just achy… Did have 2 Guinness for St. Paddy’s day yesterday… Wasn’t sure if that could interact with the anesthesia to cause fever? or if it’s too far out now. Wasn’t sure if the anesthesia could cause the achy feeling… I know they said it was a mix of 3 different things. I am very sensitive to meds anyway. Thanks again for your help.

  81. Gloria Bearne says:

    Dear Doctors,
    My son who is 23 has athetoid cerebral palsy. He recently had femoral nerve blocks but since his movements have become exaggerated especially on the right side. He seems to be in a lot of discomfort. Coud it have one thing to do with the general aneasthetic? Thank you.
    Gloria

    • David Draghinas says:

      Thanks for your question, Gloria.

      It’s difficult to give you any kind of answer not knowing exactly what was done and what kind of medicines he received.

      For most people, the immediate effects of anesthetics received should be out of the system by now.

      There is also emerging studies that for some people, there may be longer term neurologic effects of anesthesia (affecting things like memory function and mood). I don’t know that these studies have looked at people with movement disorders.

      If this continues to be an issue, I would suggest getting advice from his primary physician, the surgeon, and the anesthesiologist that care for him.

      Dr. Dave

  82. Gloria Bearne says:

    Sorry, meant “something to do….”

  83. Robyn Yeager says:

    After a near fatal horseriding accident 6 1/2 yrs ago and have been diagnosed with PTSD- (I was crushed under the horse, had a closed head injury, dbl comminuted compound rt femor fracture, left foot fracture, rt side collapsed lung and all right side ribs fractured – with 2 displaced, I lost pulse and heartbeat 2x in the helicopter on the way to the trauma center).
    I have undegone 7 surgeries since, unless I am given general anesthesia I become very combative during and after surgery. This past week I fought for over an hour, including sitting up during surgery, ripping down the drape between me and my arm trying to get away and then on into recovery ripping off my cast, and tearing protective padding up, pulled the lines out of the heart monitor and nearly tearing out the IV. This was the worst so far. I ended up in a padded bed with 5 people holding me down to protect myself.
    I know I have to undergo one more surgery and I am scared to death! I think I remember trying not to act out, but couldn’t stop myself for fear I was going to die. My heart rate neared 200 bpm and I have had trouble sleeping since the surgery.
    What can I do to help myself. I really don’t want to go through anymore of this. I really hate the fear of dying.

    • David Draghinas says:

      Robyn,

      Thank you for sharing your very personal and heart-wrenching experiences. You have been through so much!

      Patients with PTSD can wake up very confused and agitated from general anesthesia. Be sure to relay this experience to your anesthesiologist, with details, so he/she understands just how serious an issue this has been for you. And then ask them what their plan is to hopefully prevent it this time.

      Your anesthesiologist will review your entire medical history and then come up with a plan for you. Perhaps you can “wake up” with some sedation on board so that you can hopefully have a more calm transition to being awake. It’ll be up to your anesthesiologist, but it’s OK for you to ask them what their plan is for you.

      Best of luck to you, and let us know how you did.

      I’ll be saying some prayers for you.

      Dr. Dave

  84. Amber says:

    Doc. I just had surgery to remove wisdom teeth and when I woke up i was sobbing. I hadn’t even opened my eyes and I was crying. After taking an hour long nap on the way home i was still weepy but it only came in short burst and had cleared up completely 3 hours after I woke up. Im 18 a female and very petite (90 lbs and 5’0″). I had laughing gas and an iv put in.

    • David Draghinas says:

      Amber,

      Thanks for sharing your experience with the community.

      It is not uncommon for some people to have emotional changes when they undergo anesthesia. Usually, these types of experiences resolve fairly quickly. It sounds like this was the case for you as well.

      Dr. Dave

  85. Chelsea says:

    4 days ago I had 6 different procedures done on my sinus’s. I was under anesthesia for almost 3 hours. Ever since the surgery I have had severe kidney pain. 10 years ago I was diagnosed with HSP-vasculitis in my kidneys but have not had any issues in 8 years. Could the anesthesia be causing this pain
    Thanks,
    Chelsea

    • Chelsea,

      Sorry to hear about the pain you are having. Especially since the surgery was on your sinuses.

      It would be unlikely for the kidney pain to be caused by the anesthesia medicines. But since you had so many surgeries in such a short amount of time, there could be more going on. However, the anesthesia medicines are not the likely culprit.

      My suggestion would be to schedule a visit with your doctor. They can talk with you and get to the bottom of this kidney pain.

      Sorry I can’t provide more information for you.

      • Irene says:

        Hi Dr Joe,

        Dr wants to schedule a surgery to remove my right ovary (chocolate cyst 5.2cm) two months ago but I’m worried I will have reverse effect in the anesthetic due to my gastrointestinal problem that happened few months ago. I always have lightheadedness, leg weakness until I can’t walk, feeling cold, warm, wing trap in my stomach and abdomen, shortness of breath and it happens mostly in the morning before BM and after BM the symptoms became worst and I would need to lie in bed till noon, i feel a bit relief but Then the gas start to accumulate at night again. First it was few episodes in a month and then a week and since this month it happens almost everyday and it effect my daily life. I’m taking probiotic since two weeks ago, vit c, blackstrap molasses, spirulina since 3 weeks and medicine gastryl, motidone and omilock but symptoms still persist. I seems to be getting a lots of gas all the time. I have also changed my diet but i dont gave energy to do exercise, when the Symptoms attack i cant even walk for fee minutes and it will keep me exhausted for the entire day. Endoscopy, whole sets of blood test, lung x ray, ECG, abdomen ultrasounds all came back normal. GP said I could have ibs. I had one surgery to remove the same cyst 12 years ago, one for delivery 9 years ago and also two D & C in between 6 years ago but I didn’t have this sickness. But now I’m so weak like this and I don’t have confident to take the anesthetic this time but the cyst is causing me back pain most of the time and has been there since 2011. In 2012 I was put under a hormone injection for 6 months to shrink the cyst but only two cm. I’m trap in the situation and not sure what to do ad I keep postpone the surgery date. I am 165 cm weight 156 lb. Last night I tried Xanax 0.25 mg and it trigger the symptoms again but only for 15 min and then I manage to sleep. Really appreciate your advice on this. Many thanks

        • Irene,

          Thank you for trusting us with your question. I can tell you are very nervous about the anesthetic for your surgery. So I hope I can help.

          In your situation, you will likely be asleep under general anesthesia for the procedure. This is good news because this is the deepest level of sedation anesthesiologists provide for your comfort and safety during the procedure.

          As your anesthesiologist, I would have increased awareness of volume depletion during your anesthetic. This just means that I would assume you are dehydrated based on your current illness. Don’t worry, we take care of patients who are dehydrated all of the time. That is one reason why you have an iv placed for the procedure. We can provide volume replacement through the iv.

          Also, anesthesia can make patients feel sick to their stomach. Look for an upcoming post tackling this very issue. Did you become severely nauseated after your other similar procedures? If not, this is a good sign. In any case, your anesthesiologist will have a plan to help prevent post-operative nausea and vomiting. This may include giving certain anti-nausea medicines in your iv or perhaps omitting some other medicines that have a greater propensity of causing nausea. Don’t hesitate to ask the anesthesiologist about their plan if you are concerned.

          From what you have told me, I think the anesthetic will go well. But of course, I don’t know your complete medical profile. Rest assured, though, that anesthesiologists are very familiar with dehydrated patients who just don’t feel good. I hope you start to feel better before your procedure.

          Please come back and give us an update after you have the surgery. Or write us back if you have more questions or concerns.

          • Irene says:

            Thanks dr for your feedback. Previous surgery I informed the anesthesiology about my density of nauseated and he gave me something so I was alright after the surgery but this time my health is deteriorating because when i get hungry i become very weak, brain fog, shaking (previously i did not have this attack) and i wounder how i could stand many hours of fast for the surgery and I suspect I also have sleep apnea because I woke up in the middle of the night and grasp my breath even with Xanax. My sleeps always not deep for many years (15 years ago) mostly half a sleep with dreams. Sometimes woke up with bad dreams and other times need to pee. And I usually snore very loud sometimes I woke up can hear my snoring. But for the past few months since the symptoms on my gastrointestinal persists it affect my sleeps very often. I have surf on sleep apnea that surgery is very risky and I’m very anxious person with anxiety epidural anesthetic may not suits me. Anyway I haven’t been to the doc to confirm on the diagnosis, am just guessing based on the symptoms i have. i never thought of sleep apnea previously except recently i always woke up in the middle of the night. I’m basically trapped… :(

  86. Mike Racca says:

    I had emergency gall bladder removal surgery 5 weeks ago and had general anesthesia. Sergury lasted 2 1/2 hours. Since my surgery, i have been having lost of memory moments and feel at times I am in a daze in the middle of the day. Feels like i am dreaming. Is this still side effects of my surgey? I cannot consentrate and loose my train of thought. What could be causing this?

  87. ClintonTruman@gmail.com says:

    . Last June I suffered an L4 rupture with fragments impinging L4 & L5 nerve roots and was on oxycodone for about 6 weeks 15mg 3hrs awaiting laminectomy under general. Allowed pain to return before redosing. Following day woke up and could not walk taken in exquisite pain to ER by ambulance. Placed on haldol (which I think was abusive to knock out a patient in extreme pain rather than treat the pain – was not provided bipap during stay) morphine, etc. for observation for 2 days discharged home for PT. A week later blinded by an orbital tumor (cavernous hemangioma) resected by lateral orbitotomy with bone window and consequent Brown Syndrome (damage to eye nerves or muscles affecting up left gaze and outward gaze). Continued on oxycodone until about October.

    History: Obstructive Sleep Apnea with O2 desaturation recently changed from bi pap to vpap after rare central apneas suspected, with reduction of apneas to 0.
    Diabeties II (1000mg metformin 4 mg glimiperide 2xday) Lipitor 20mg, benicar 40mg, levothyroxin 75 mcg, amilodipene 5mg 2x) For OSA/ADD Provigil 300 mg Adderal 30mg 1.5xday and BiPap therapy. 3 grade II concussions between 7/03-2/04 from MVAs.
    Nicotine gum 4mg PRN (nearly always)

    Meds the same except 5 mg oxycodone prn, unusally not more than 5-10 mg in a day depending upon activity and now added 20 mg prozac.

    Following the surgeries I have been dizzy, forgetful, lightheaded, unfocused and cannot complete complex cognitive tasks. I am concerned that the surgical anesthesia or the sedation for the two days between surgeries has caused me brain injury. I have panic like attacks when I am stressed by falling behind in my work to the extent I leap up and leave the building and pace. I never had any of these problems before the surgeries.

  88. amy says:

    Hi Dr Joe, i had a cholecystectomy a week ago. it was done laprascopically, the surgery went fine however, i always wake up startled and flailing. i am aware of everything being said around me and i am able to respond with flailing to pain and voice but i can’t talk or open my eyes. this time, after flicking my iv to see if i would respond to pain, i still couldn’t open my eyes. i heard the nurse say i can give her some narcan, it wont hurt her she just had a lap chole. i don”t know if she used this on me or not. the next thing i experienced was very painful and traumatic. i smelled a very pungent smell and felt crystal like substance fall into my nose. it was an extreme burning sensation and it instantly dried up all my mucous membranes. my throat closed off. i was flailing, the nurse was yelling. i sat up and was gasping. still having difficulty opening my eyes. she kept telling me to calm down and to take deep breaths through my nose and out my mouth. i had a difficult time r/t severe burn and dryness. what could’ve she used to cause such burning. today my nose is still irritated. my voice is just now returning to normal. my throat did not hurt prior to this inhalant.

    • Amy,

      Thanks for sending us your question. It is certainly possible that some of the symptoms you experienced could have been from Narcan. But without knowing the exact medicine you received, it is difficult to predict the cause of the burning sensation.

      However, the reversal of opioid (Morphine-type) medicines with Narcan can cause a variety of reactions. If indeed you did receive Narcan, this may have been a cause of your flushing and burning sensations. Also, Narcan can cause agitation and restlessness, which it sounds like you may have experienced.

      Overall, you likely experienced post operative hypoventilation. This is not uncommon in the postoperative period and is NOT an allergy to anesthesia. It just takes some patients a longer time to recover from the anesthesia than others.

      Hypoventilation can lead to decreased oxygen levels in the body which can also lead to agitation, restlessness, and panic. Your situation was probably a combination of these factors.

      Do you have any trouble with asthma or sleep apnea? These conditions can lead to decreased ventilation as well.

      Most importantly, are you feeling back to normal now?

  89. Amy Race says:

    Hi Dr Joe,
    thank you for your reply. I do not have asthma or sleep apnea as far as I know. I did talk with the manager of the recovery room and she said the nurse used smelling salts. I do know that she had removed my oxygen just before using the smelling salts. I do feel much better now. Thank you for asking. I do still have a burning sensation in my left nostril, but I am better and praying I never have to have surgery again.

    • Of course! Smelling salts……..We do not routinely use these in our practice, but they can certainly cause the symptoms you described.

      Thanks so much for getting back to us. This is one of the rewarding parts of our blog. We get to learn from you which will hopefully help us become better anesthesiologists.

      I hope you feel back to normal soon.

  90. Kayleigh says:

    Hello I had a general yesterday and my eyes are dry bloodshot. Is this normal? Should I get some eye drops? Thank you
    Kay12

    • Hi Kay,

      Thanks for sending us your question. Have you had this problem with your eyes before? What type of procedure did you have? How long were you under anesthesia?

      If you do not have any chronic eye problems and your procedure / anesthetic was routine, I would expect your situation to resolve on its own soon.

      It would be very concerning if you were experiencing any vision loss, though. I am sure you would have mentioned this in your comment :)

      Anesthesiologists are vigilant about protecting your eyes during anesthesia because of the possibility of a corneal abrasion if the eyes are not protected. But it sounds like your vision is okay.

      Hope this helps!

  91. What can a person do to speed returning the lungs to normal function after 6 hours of general anesthesia? I have a heavy cough, and phlegm which interferes with sleeping.

    • David Draghinas says:

      Hello Norman,

      Some of the things that can help get the lungs back to normal include: deep breathing exercises, actively coughing to help clear the airway of that phlegm and secretions, and properly using an incentive spirometer.

      If you have access to an incentive spirometer, here is a guide from the Cleveland Clinic on its proper use:
      http://www.clevelandclinic.org/health/health-info/docs/0200/0239.asp?index=4302&src=news

      I hope this information helps. If you still feel like you have difficulty breathing after going through these exercises, you may need to speak with your physician to make sure something else isn’t going on.

      Best of luck to you.

      Dr. Dave

  92. Chuck says:

    I had local anesthesia. Before I signed the consent form, the anesthesiologist didn’t explain the effects or risks. They just had me sign it. I asked to be awake for the procedure. I woke up three hours later. I feel violated my consent was not given to lose my memory or deep sedation. Why didn’t the anesthesiologist explain any of this before I signed the consent form. What can I do after that fact I feel like what I said was just worthless? I didn’t even know what questions to ask. Now I do but it’s too late. I just want to kill myself because it wasn’t what I was told before I signed the consent form. I just feel so violated and Lied to.

    • David Draghinas says:

      Chuck,

      Thanks for reaching out and posting your comment.

      I am very sorry for your experience. I think the best place to start is to speak with your anesthesiologist. Perhaps there was a medical reason you could not be “awake”.

      When I discuss the anesthetic plan with a patient and it involves being “awake” or having “light sedation”, I try to also let him/her know that we might progress to deep sedation or General Anesthesia if medically necessary. Sometimes procedures take longer than expected, or are more painful than expected, and being awake is no longer possible.

      But I agree with you that it’s important to have that conversation BEFORE the procedure.

      You are not the first person to have reached out to us recently with an issue regarding “informed consent”. We are working on posting generic surgical and anesthesia consent forms on the site so that people can read them early, when they are under less stress, and be as informed as possible.

      Again, I am sorry you did not get a better explanation of the anesthesia plan beforehand. Please let us know if you discover any other information regarding your anesthesia.

      Dr. Dave

      • Chuck says:

        thanks man, that means lot. i may write up something i wish i was given to read and have explained to me before hand; i’ll reply when i get it done; might be several weeks as i’m still getting info from Sanford Health.

  93. Jessica says:

    In the past few years I have undergone four major and one minor surgery. The minor surgery was yesterday. After the major surgeries I did suffer from some mild cognitive loss. It came out in little ways like leaving out or skipping words in sentences when I wrote or forgetting words. Luckily after about six months it seemed to get better. Unlike my other surgeries my surgery yesterday was more elective and cosmetic. I ended up last minute changing what was to be done because I didn’t want the stronger anesthetic. I am still not sure if this was a wise choice on my part, but so far my cognative function feels normal. I think the issue of the effects of anesthesia on cognitive brain function needs to be further researched.

    • David Draghinas says:

      Thank you for your comment, Jessica.

      This is definitely an important issue. One that needs lots more research. That research is ongoing and it is sometimes difficult to do. But we continue to learn more and more.

      We have had quite a few people write us with similar stories about cognitive dysfunction following surgery and anesthesia. You might also be interested in looking through this short post that addresses the subject.

      Best of luck to you.

      Dr. Dave

      • Jessica says:

        Thanks Dave for taking the tome to respond to me. I appreciate your efforts! I looked at the previous comments that you linked to and based on my experience I would surmise that many people suffer from some cognative loss at least with some types of anesthesia. I didn’t notice it right away and I can see how the loss cam go in-noticed in otherwise healthy adults. I think that I noticed the cognitive decline because I had four major operations within a two year span. I also noticed that my cognative function got better as time passed. My job requires a fairly high level of function (I am a college professor) so this might be another reason why I noticed the difference. It was with little things like calling things the wrong name or slipping words when I wrote. Anyway, you have a lot of good information. Thanks for the blog and the response!

        • David Draghinas says:

          You are very welcome, Jessica.

          Thanks for the kind words.

          • Linda Beehler says:

            Thank you for your informative blog. My husband had triple bypass surgery almost four weeks ago and certainly has cognitive lapses and other side effects of surgery and anesthesia; nausea and loss of taste and smell. How common are these complaints?

            • David Draghinas says:

              Hello Linda,

              There is ongoing research with regards to post operative cognitive dysfunction. You might find this short post on the subject informative.

              Post operative nausea and vomiting is more common. There are multiple factors that make a patient at risk for this (mentioned in this post).

              Loss of taste and smell after anesthesia is pretty rare. I have read about instances in the literature, but haven’t really seen this clinically myself.

              I hope your husband has a smooth and safe recovery.

              Dr. Dave

  94. denise says:

    hello, my husband 60 yrs old and has had 3 strokes. just went under general anesthesia 2 days ago and now he cant move due to very bad fatigue. 2 weeks prior to this he quit hydrocodone was prescribed due to a car accident(since had surgery) . he says he feels like he is in withdrawal again ? he was up and active up until he went under for injections in his back for pain. is this normal? its like it took the life out of him and i am very worried. bp has been very good but hr has been over 80 .

    • David Draghinas says:

      Denise,

      It sounds like your husband has a complex medical history. There could be many factors that are contributing to his slow recovery following anesthesia. It may be a good idea to see his primary care physician as soon as possible. If that doctor has any questions about residual anesthetic effects contributing to your husband’s condition, then they could get in touch with his anesthesiologist.

      I hope his health continues to improve and he gets back to his pre-procedure state.

      All the best to you and your family.

      Dr. Dave

  95. Dear sir
    During sonograph it was reported that my wife of AGE 48 has got SLIGHTLY bulky Uterus with small endometrial polyp and small cystic left adnexa for which doctor advise for leproscopic operation with General Annethesia , I apprehend that when it required other operation including even removal of Uterus latteron it may effect renal dysfunction for G.A kindly advise

    • David Draghinas says:

      Thanks for your question, Ramesh.

      When a patient is under general anesthesia, we take great care to monitor the patient closely. Part of this includes monitoring blood pressure, to help ensure all major organs (such as the kidneys) are properly perfused during the case. Depending on the length of the surgery (and other factors), we may also monitor urine output.

      For most healthy people with normal kidney function, undergoing a general anesthetic will not have a significant impact on their renal function.

      Dr. Dave

  96. misty says:

    Hi, im 35 healthy and was just put under general anesthesia for the first time to remove polyps from my uterus. I have had a history of GAD and panick attacks, so needless to say I was a nervous wreck!! Everything went fine I just have one concern regarding my blood pressure dropping to 100/52 with pulse 98. Im 5’3 and weigh 123, my blood pressure is generally 117/68.. before surgery because of my nerves it raised to 138/77. Is this drop in blood pressure upon awakening from anesthesia normal?

    Thanks,
    Misty

    • David Draghinas says:

      Hi Misty,

      Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m glad to hear you made it through what must have been a nerve-wracking experience!

      For someone who typically has “normal” blood pressure, none of those blood pressures are concerning. As you mentioned, the “stress of surgery” often raises the blood pressure for many people before surgery. And many anesthetics and pain medicines given during surgery can lower your blood pressure. Yours does not appear to have dropped to a dangerous level.

      Dr. Dave

  97. Paul F. Lucas says:

    Dr. Dave and Dr. Joe,

    Thank you for this blog.
    I hope it helps many people to overcome their fear of Anesthesia.

    In 2003 I was diagnosed with an Inguinal Hernia that required surgery. I was 41 years old and had never had any kind of surgery before, so naturally I was horrified.
    When I met with my Anesthesiologist for the first time, he immediately put my fears to rest by taking his time to explain what was going to happen in the Operating Room.
    I was given the choice of IV Sedation, (which he explained all four levels of sedation) or General Anesthesia. Since I have zero tolerance for pain, I told him I just wanted to be knocked out to ensure amnesia and analgesia and to wake me up when it was over.
    At the conclusion of our meeting, he gave me his business card and told me to call him if I had any questions or concerns. My surgery was not for another week so it gave me some time to think about my options.
    On ‘Surgery Day’ after I changed into my gown and the IV was started, both my Surgeon and Anesthesiologist stopped by to see if I had any questions before proceeding to the Operating Room. I told them I had no questions and I was ready to go. My Surgeon used a marker to place an “X” near my hernia and then my Anesthesiologist took a wooden mallot out of his pocket, smacked it against his hand and said “Night, Night.” We all had a good laugh and they walked away.
    Right before being taken to the Operating Room, a nurse injected a small dose of Lorazepam into my IV line along with a preoperative antibiotic.
    Once inside the Operating Room and strapped down, my Anesthesiologist asked if I was okay, then put the mask on my face telling me it was just oxygen and informed me that he was injecting a “cocktail” into my IV that would make me very sleepy. He then turned on the gas and asked me to count backward from 100, and all I can remember saying is 99.
    A few hours later I woke up in recovery, where this very nice Nurse gave me a big dose of morphine. Shortly before being discharged that same day, my Surgeon and Anesthesiologist came by to tell me that everything went well and I did just fine.
    In 2007 I had my second Hernia surgery, on the opposite side, but this time I wasn’t the least bit nervous. It was done by a different Surgical Team, but they were another great group of people.

    Thank you Dr. Dave and Dr. Joe.
    It’s wonderful Doctor’s like you that gave me two of the best naps I’ve ever had!

    • David Draghinas says:

      Paul,

      Thanks for sharing your experience with so much detail. Though others won’t have the exact experience as you, your recount helps explain what happens when going in for surgery.

      It sounds like you had a great team taking care of you. I’m glad you had a wonderful experience.

      Dr. Dave

  98. linda says:

    Hi. My 10 yr old son who has Down syndrome is supposed to have extensive dental work in the hospital under general anesthesia. This is first for him. I am nervous about intubation as he has large tongue, snores at night ( never had a sleep study) and he also has Aortic valve recurg and laryngomalacia as a baby. What are the precautions taken for someone like my son? What are major complications for kids with Down under general anesthesia? He is non-verbal and gags on food a lot. I am worried about vomiting after surgery and chocking. He also doesn’t know how to spit, so probably will swalow a lot of blood from extractions. How about allergy reactions to IV medications?
    Thank you for your time.

    • David Draghinas says:

      Thanks for your questions, Linda.

      Patients with Down syndrome can be more challenging to anesthetise, and you’ve pointed out in your comment some of the reasons for this.

      Intubation can be more challenging due to a larger tongue, smaller airways, sleep apnea, neck instability, acid reflux, etc. The anesthesiologist will make his/her plan for airway management after reviewing his history, talking to you, and examining your son.

      If your child has aortic valve regurgitation (and any other issues with the heart), your anesthesiologist will want to know about this. Either bring with you copies of any heart studies and/or notes from his cardiologist, or make sure they are in his medical chart on the day of surgery.

      Your worry about vomiting/choking is a fair concern. The anesthesiologist will likely extubate (remove the breathing tube) when your son is “awake” to help ensure his airway reflexes have returned, hopefully avoiding this issue.

      Allergic reactions to medicines are fairly rare, unless there is a pre-existing allergy. If there is, be sure to let the medical team know so they can avoid that medication(s).

      The bottom line is that anesthesia for a patient with Downs does carry a higher risk. What I recommend is to bring with you any relevant studies about your child (especially heart studies such as Echocardiograms). Then maybe write down all these concerns you have and discuss them with his anesthesiologist. It’s a good idea to write things down because it can get stressful on the day of surgery, and people tend to forget all the important questions they had.

      We will be keeping you and your son in our thoughts and prayers.

      Dr. Dave

  99. Jeannie says:

    I will be having nerve decompression surgery October 1st. I’m anxious about GA because I hate the idea of being unconscious and not in control of a situation. This is probably a ridiculous question, but is there any chance of dreaming while under GA? I just really don’t like the idea of not having any awareness at all. I would appreciate any advice. Thank you. By the way, it’s a 4 hour procedure which is too long for my comfort level.

    • David Draghinas says:

      Jeannie,

      Thanks for your interesting question.

      Yes! I have had multiple patients “wake up” from general anesthesia and recount very pleasant dreams. I have had many other patients also tell me they felt very “rested” following anesthesia.

      One woman, whose spouse had died many years ago, was very disappointed when I “woke her up” from general anesthesia. She told me soon after waking that the whole time she had been dreaming and that she had spent the whole time with her deceased husband in those dreams.

      It was a very emotional post operative period for all of us.

      I hope you have a very smooth experience, pleasant dreams, and wake up rested and comfortable. Please come back and let us know about your experiences.

      Dr. Dave

  100. chipvik says:

    I Am 68 years old and am getting a microlift November 12th, 2013. I am also having a procedure to check to see how my bacterial ensophigitis (spelling?) is doing on October 7th. Are the two procedures too close together because of anesthectics? I am scared and also wondered if 4 hours is too long (safe) to be under the anesthectic for the lift? I appreciate your help. Thanks, Viki

    • David Draghinas says:

      Thanks for your question.

      Here is a post we wrote about post operative cognitive dysfunction:

      Every time someone goes in for surgery, there is a risk/benefit measure that must be made. This includes the risk of anesthesia, but is an individual assessment, depending on the medical characteristics of that individual.

      So unfortunately, I can’t give you any specific advice on your particular situation.

      But perhaps you can re-assess your situation after your first procedure and decide if you are ready to go forward with the second.

      All the best to you,

      Dr. Dave

  101. Kris says:

    I had a previous abdominal laparoscopy performed and woke up from anesthesia, from what the nurse said, thrashing about. I remember my eyes still being closed, and feeling unable to take a breath. As I remember it, I was trying to will my lungs to work. It was very scary. I am sure it was not a significant amount of time that I was like that and I went on to recover just fine.

    I am scheduled for another surgery in a few weeks and would like to know if it would beneficial to obtain the medical records from the first surgery to give to the new anesthesiologist? I am not scheduled to meet he or she until the day of surgery. Thank you in advance for your reply.

    • David Draghinas says:

      Thanks for your question, Kris.

      Just because that was your experience last time, does not necessarily mean that will happen again this time.

      It’s always beneficial to have previous anesthesia records to examine. If you can obtain them, I would recommend having them with you when you meet your anesthesiologist. And be sure to tell him/her about your past experience and any other anesthesia concerns you might have.

      Best of luck to you,

      Dr. Dave

  102. Sarah says:

    After a mini face lift surgery where I specifically asked for no tube, they had to put it in because of increased secretion due to my allergies. My throat was swollen and scratchy for 4 days and the only thing that helped a bit was a spoon full of honey. Any way for some one to re design those tubes out of very soft rubber or something that will not cause damage?? Also, the muscles were very painful starting the 6th day, same with my other major surgery 3 years ago, I guess delayed body reaction??

    • David Draghinas says:

      Thanks for your comment, Sarah.

      I’m sorry they had to use the breathing tube. But it sounds like it was a decision that was made with your safety in mind.

      Many things go into the design of the breathing tube. Among other things, it must be made of a material that does not cause a reaction within the body. And it must be sturdy enough to reliably allow gas exchange while being as “gentle” to the surrounding structures as possible. Not an easy task.

      I hope you feel back to normal soon.

      Dr. Dave

  103. Gail says:

    Hi, I am glad I found this blog. I do understand you must be very busy, but I have been struggling to make sense of what is happening to me and so far have not found much help from my anesthetist or GP.

    I live in the UK. 10 days ago I had a day procedure (hysteroscopy + endometrial biopsy) under general anesthetic. It was induced in gas form via a mask. The procedure itself was uneventful, it took about 30 minutes and I have no complaints about the site of the surgery.

    When I woke up after the procedure I felt very drowsy and though I was not confused, thinking and concentrating felt like too much. Later that day I also felt sick and vomited. I was told that it could happen and should resolve within 24 hours. I was taken home same day, but could not get out of bed for 48 hours because of feeling drowsy and as if knocked out. I contacted the hospital and they advised me to keep resting and drink plenty of fluids.

    On day 3 I started feeling better, but the strange feeling in the head remained. It is day 10 today and I still feel what can be compared with a very bad hangover or recovering from a severe flu.

    I called the hospital again wanting to talk to my anesthetist just to check what it could be and also I wanted to know what agent was used, so that I note that it did not agree with me (I had had GA before by IV injection and that went very well with no side effects). They told me that it was not customary to have post-surgery consultation with the anesthetist, but said they would get back to me. They never did. My GP thinks that I might have caught some kind of a viral infection during the GA administration and he does not seem to be worried.

    I don’t know what to think. I felt absolutely fine before the surgery. I am a healthy 50 year old with no chronic conditions. I now feel ill with no answers. Honestly, I am scared about long-term consequences of this surgery that I now regret having.

    Is it possible that I was overdosed or that I suffered some kind of uncommon side-effect? Is it normal to feel like that for some people after GA? If it is, how long will it take to get back to health? What can I do to help myself? What can I ask the doctors?
    It’s been 10 days. Nobody warned me about this.

    It sounds like too much of a coincidence for it to be unrelated to my surgery.

    • David Draghinas says:

      Thanks for your question, Gail. I am sorry you are feeling so horribly after your surgery.

      It is possible that you’ve caught some kind of “bug” that is contributing to the difficulties you are having recovering from this procedure.

      It’s also possible that you may be experiencing some Post Operative Cognitive Dysfunction. Here is a post responding to someone who had a tough time recovering from anesthesia: Confused After Surgery

      As we get older, our chances of experiencing POCD increases. Though it can take some time, people’s mental function usually improves over time.

      I hope this information helps and that you feel better soon.

      Dr. Dave

      • Gail says:

        Dear Dr Dave,

        Thank you very much for your reply. I don’t think it was POCD, as I did not have any memory or cognitive problems as described in the article, apart from just feeling that engaging my brain would be too much like you would with a very bad headache or dizziness. I am slowly getting better which is a good sign. It certainly was a serious shock for the system this time.

  104. Barbara Parks says:

    I am not sure if I was given too much anesthesia or the wrong kind, but, something ;bizzare happened during or after hip replacement surgery that I cannot figure out yet. I was transferred by ambulance to another hospital where every test was given. I remember nothing, absolutely nothing. During the testing and right afterward, I still remained “out” and according to my pastor all the machines indicated I was not going to make it. This hospital transferred me by lifeflight to another medical center where I was put on an a breathing machine. The odd thing is I remember nothing of any of this for 3 weeks. It sure doesn’t make any sense to me. Today, there are still no memories of what exactly happened to me and no one else seems to know either. Any suggestions?

    • David Draghinas says:

      Thanks for your question, Barbara.

      First off, I’m glad you made it though!

      Not knowing all the details, it’s difficult to say what happened. There are certain medicines, such as Versed (ie. Midazolam), that can be given that cause amnesia. For some, the effects can last longer than expected. If you needed to remain intubated (breathing tube), you were likely kept sedated. This too could have caused/contributed to the effects you speak of.

      Finally, when a person’s vitals signs are unstable, this too can cause some of the memory loss effects that you speak of.

      While I can’t give you any definitive explanation, I am very glad you are doing much better now.

      All the best to you,

      Dr. Dave

  105. Fisera says:

    Hi, i have full body itching after general anesthesia. It started one day after operation 10.12.2013 Itching is not much intensive. I can sleep etc. I tried some Antihistamine, but it didnt help at all. Is it normal to have itching 1 week after gen. anesthesia ? When it could disappear ?

    • David Draghinas says:

      Hi Fisera,

      It’s unlikely that itching one week later is directly related to the general anesthesia.

      However, if you are taking any new medicines since the surgery (especially narcotic type meds), they could be related to your itching.

      I hope you feel better soon.

      Dr. Dave

  106. Rachel says:

    I had a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy approximately 14 hours ago. I was confused as expected after I woke up but for the most part have been fine. However starting about an hour ago I began to get very emotional. I started to cry for seemingly no reason and I was very genuinely upset, however I don’t know what I was upset over. Is this common or does this happen to other people? If so when will this end? I’m a 20 year old female if that information is helpful.

    • David Draghinas says:

      Hello Rachel,

      It is not uncommon for patients to get very emotional right after surgery. I have seen this on more than one occasion, and it usually is evident in the immediate recovery period.

      Keep in mind that your body is recovering from the “stress of surgery” and may still be processing the anesthesia medicines and various other drugs that were used during your surgical experience. You may also have been prescribed new medicines (such as pain medicines) after the surgery.

      All of these can impact your emotional state.

      For most healthy people, these emotional experiences are short lived. I hope you get back to “normal” soon.

      Please keep us updated on your condition.

      Dr. Dave

  107. sridhar says:

    Dear Dr Dave and Dr Joe,

    I am very happy to have come across this blog which I hope will clear my doubt.

    My son, 25 years old underwent the arthroscopic surgery for labrum tear on his right shoulder two months back. The surgery was performed under GA.

    Immediately after the surgery he complained that his right ear was blocked and we noticed that his uvula was also elongated. Doctors informed that there is nothing to worry about and both the problems will go away on its own in due course of time. Even though the uvula has become normal after about three weeks, there is no improvement in the blocked right ear.

    He went to the ENT specialist five weeks after the surgery. The audiometry tests showed hearing loss of 50-60 decibels and it was diagnosed as sensorineural hearing loss.

    He was having cold and coughs for three days before the surgery for which he was given medication.
    1) Could this condition before the surgery have caused the problem to the inner ear?
    2) He was having normal hearing before the surgery and these problems happened only after the surgery. Could any of the procedures of anaesthesia have caused these?

    Thank you very much for your time and kind reply
    .
    Sridhar
    India

    • David Draghinas says:

      Thanks for your question, Sridhar. I’m sorry to hear about the problems your son is experiencing.

      A couple of things come to mind from the information you provided.

      If he was also having an ear infection along with the cold/cough prior to surgery (it may not have even been very noticeable), this may have contributed to the issues he’s having after surgery.

      I have not heard of anesthesia directly causing hearing loss. There are certain medications, however, that can cause hearing loss. The aminoglycosides are a class of antibiotics that can do this. A more commonly used drug in this class (at least in the US) is Gentamicin. Some diuretics can also cause hearing loss.

      I hope this information helps. I pray your son’s hearing makes improvements and that the loss is not permanent.

      Dr. Dave

  108. Amanda says:

    Hi There,

    I hope you can settle my nerves some. I was diagnosed with lupus and ? Dermamyositis some six mths ago and have had many multiple tests since then which have unearthed a variety of “malfunctioning body bits” such as an enlarged thyroid covering a 1/3 of my wind pipe, kidney stones and polyps.

    A week ago today I had a colonoscopy and a gastroscopy under heavy sedation. Apparently my blood pressure (which has always been on the safe low side) dropped to 80/55. Today I had a general anesthetic to “blast” the kidney stones. My blood pressure rose while under today to 180/120.

    I am female and 50 yrs of age. I take 400mg of Plaquenill daily and 1 x mersyndol tablet daily (I had a spinal fusion 9 years ago and this seems to help the muscles relax as I go to sleep of an evening). This is the only medication I am taking atm as still having more tests on thyroid.

    I am concerned about this erratic blood pressure when in the past I have had no issue (120/80 is generally my average, except when pregnant (4 x times) when I was advised to eat extra salt to keep it up. My last child was born 25 yrs ago!

    Should I be concerned about my response to the heavy sedation and the anesthetic?

    Thank you for your advise.
    Cheers
    Amanda

    • David Draghinas says:

      Amanda,

      Thanks for sharing your experiences here with our community.

      Part of the reason anesthesiologists are there, watching you carefully during any procedure with anesthesia (sedation, general anesthesia, etc), is because the body can react to these stresses on your body. Blood pressure changes are common, and this is one of the standard things that anesthesiologists monitor.

      What would be concerning is if you have blood pressure swings when NOT under any kind of anesthesia. Just in the normal course of your day. If this is the case, you should consult with your physician.

      If you need anesthesia again in the future, you can let your anesthesiologist know about these previous experiences.

      All the best to you,

      Dr. Dave

  109. Naja says:

    Hello,

    I had a plastic surgery on my leg – had a burnt wound covered up. The operation went under general anesthesia for about 3 hours. I woke up with a little nausea but in a good state of mind, with no delusions or confusion. Just with a sore throat and a stiffed lip which I still feel stiffed for 2 days now after the surgery. But I have a question – is there any “dead” post op risk from a general anesthesia?

    Thanks in advance!

    • David Draghinas says:

      Naja,

      Thanks for posting your comment. I’m glad to hear you got through your operation OK.

      Could you please help me better understand your question. Are you asking if there’s any risk of death with anesthesia? Or are you trying to ask something else?

      Looking forward to hearing back from you.

      Dr. Dave

      • Naja says:

        Hello, Dr Dave,

        Thank you very much first for your response. My question is if there is still any danger of death days after the general anesthesia? Sorry if it sounds stupid, but I’m a bit of hypochondriac…. :)

        Best,
        Naja

        • David Draghinas says:

          Ah, I see.

          I would say that really isn’t something to worry about. Especially if there aren’t any anesthesia related issues during the surgery.

          To give you a more complete answer, there is a very rare condition called malignant hyperthermia. It’s very rare and typically presents itself while a patient is under general anesthesia. Even more rarely, it can develop in the post operative period. Usually this means in the hours following surgery. Again, let me emphasize that this is extremely rare.

          I hope my mention of this does not contribute to your worry. Again, this is not to suggest that this is applicable to your situation.

          All the best to you,

          Dr. Dave

  110. Sterling Hartman says:

    I had rotator cuff surgery 15 years ago and had life threatening anesthesia after effects:

    After the telemetry was removed I was taken to my room to be released the next morning. I stopped breathing in the nite and an excellent nurse caught it in time to should “CODE BLUE”.

    I was on an ICU vent for the next two days–absolutely could not wake up–and finally received an injection into my stomach. The drug they give addicts who have OD’d.

    7-10 days after I was released the bank statement came and I didn’t have a clue what to do. Several weeks later I regained some memory and balanced the check book.

    I also have had significant memory loss probably because of the time I wasn’t breathing properly and starving the brain of oxygen.

    I was in pre-nursing and couldn’t remember the 75 classes of drugs, their effects, and generic equivalents..

    My brother had anesthesia for kidney stone surgery and needed to be “jump started” twice during the lithotropsy shock wave procedure.

    Unfortunately, I’m facing rotator cuff surgery again on the same shoulder and not frightened by the surgery but scared to death of the anesthesia.

    I’d appreciate your thoughts,

    Sterling

    • David Draghinas says:

      Sterling,

      Thanks for sharing your history and your concerns. With the adverse events you (and your brother) experienced, it’s absolutely normal for you to be concerned.

      It’s hard for me to speculate as to the causes of your situation. It could have been something as simple as an overdose of narcotic medicines that caused you to stop breathing. But again, I don’t know without being there or examining the medical records.

      My suggestion is to meet with your anesthesiologist PRIOR to your surgery. Your surgeon should be able to help you set this up if you have any trouble reaching the anesthesiologist.

      If possible, it would help if you could round up and bring with you to that meeting your medical records from that previous surgery and hospitalization (I know it was a long time ago). It would also help if your brother would lend you his medical records from his surgery. Your anesthesiologist could examine the anesthesia record to see what happened during the procedure and try to figure out if what happened is related to something genetic/familial, or something related specifically to his medical situation.

      All the best to you. You are in our thoughts and prayers. Please come back and let us know about your experience.

      Dr. Dave

  111. Tabitha says:

    Dr. Dave,

    I’m a 32 years old female. When I was 13 months old, I began receiving flavored gas anesthetic for reconstructive surgeries. The surgeries were for 2nd and 3rd degree burns that covered 45 percent of my body. And, I received at least one surgery every year for 15 years. I’ve also had surgery for a deviated septum about 7 or 8 years ago which I received general anesthetic for.

    I did a little research about the long-term risks of anesthesia, and I have some of what was mentioned. Such as; poor memory and learning disabilities. However, what concerns me most is the mention of reproductive health risks that women should consider if they work in an environment exposing them to anesthetic gas… Although, I don’t work around anesthetic gas; and I haven’t found any research mentioning long-term reproductive risks, I wonder if I should be concerned?

    Thank you for your time.

    Tabitha

    • David Draghinas says:

      Tabitha,

      Thanks for your questions.

      To my knowledge, there is very little good research on reproductive risks related to anesthesia gases. And the studies that do exist, are likely more significant to those exposed to anesthesia gases on a regular basis as a part of their job.

      While, we can never say that the risk is zero, from the research that I have seen thus far, this type of risk is pretty small.

      All the best to you,

      Dr. Dave

  112. Patty says:

    Hello Dr. Dave,
    I am a 51 year old female in excellent health never smoked I am not on any meds and don’t drink. Blood pressure 109/63 ……… I walk 4 miles 5 days a week and bike 14 miles on the weekends, yoga and eat very healthy. My weight is 135. I have a 10 centimeter fibroid on my uterus that causes me a little back pain and frequent urination, no heavy bleeding associated with the fibroid. I do have occasional gerd and a feeling of fullness and I have a belly that does protrude from the fibroid. After reading all the side affects of anesthesia people have had ( even healthy people) I don’t think I can go through with the surgery. I am already having SO much anxiety anticipating my laparoscopic myomectomy. I met with the pre-op anesthesiology DR. she couldn’t be sure of how I will come out of anesthesia. I am so terrified it is to the point that I am now having heart palpations, and I can’t sleep at night associated with night terrors and I am loosing weight along with a feeling of letting myself down(a little depressed) from the stress of worrying about the side affects from the anesthesia. ( it’s the unknown) I am also worried that if I do have a side effect that is not easily explained it will be dismissed as “it’s not from the anesthesia” I have only had anesthesia once in my life I my early 20′s for a D&C. I don’t remember anything from that time. I know I am scheduled to have anesthesia gases and the surgery should last 3.5 hours. I also have SVT……. that is a VERY big concern! I do control it with diet and exercise but stressful situations and medications can put my heart into a tailspin. My surgeon said not to worry about that because they are equipped to handle those things (I still worry). My husband said I shouldn’t do the surgery right now because of this extreme anxiety that has come over me. I also have developed shingles:( Any suggestions I am feeling hopelessly overwhelmed! Would you agree that I should not go into surgery with this much anxiety? How should I bring this up to my surgeon with out him thinking I am a quitter?

  113. Margie says:

    Dr.Dave, I had three back surgeries in 15 months. I don’t remember anything from time of surgery to as long as 8 days after. My mind was really foggy for weeks. It has been 15 months since my last surgery. I have lots of incidents of forgetfulness, both short and long term memory. I already had some long term memory forgetfulness. I begin to talk and forget the word to use and sometimes I insert words that don’t begin to fit in the sentence. I hear conversations but remember only parts of it. My concentration is horrible. I had some problems before but much worse since the surgeries, Could anesthesia be the cause?

  114. Sandy says:

    Hi. I had surgery earlier this year that required a general anesthetic. I noticed that when I woke up and for the next couple of days I felt really hyperactive and couldn’t sleep? Is this a normal reaction to anesthesia? I saw that my heart rate and blood pressure were pretty high when I was waking up and until the next day – I’ve never had any health problems that could have affected my blood pressure before. Thank you:)

    • David Draghinas says:

      Thanks for your question Sandy.

      What you describe is not typical. One possibility is that this may be a reaction to a new medicine you are taking.

      Have those symptoms persisted? Or are you feeling better now?

      Hoping you are doing much better,

      Dr Dave

      • Sandy says:

        Hi – thanks so much for your reply.

        Thank you – yes, I’m feeling much better now, the symptoms have gone away. It seemed to be only a temporary reaction to the surgery – but I was a little worried because I couldn’t sit still or rest after the operation.

        I wasn’t taking any medication before the surgery and haven’t started any new medications, but I really just wondered if the anesthetic could have caused that kind of reaction, or maybe the Drs gave me some kind of medication when I was waking up/to help me wake up that could have caused me to feel hyperactive for a while?

        Thanks again for your reply! :)

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