General Anesthetic, Adult

A doctor specialized in giving anesthesia (anesthesiologist) or a nurse specialized in giving anesthesia (nurse anesthetist) gives medicine that makes you sleep while a procedure is performed (general anesthetic). Once the general anesthetic has been administered, you will be in a sleeplike state in which you feel no pain. After having a general anesthetic you may feel:

  • Dizzy.

  • Weak.

  • Drowsy.

  • Confused.

These feelings are normal and can be expected to last for up to 24 hours after the procedure is completed. 

LET YOUR CAREGIVER KNOW ABOUT:

  • Allergies you have.

  • Medications you are taking, including herbs, eye drops, over the counter medications, dietary supplements, and creams.

  • Previous problems you have had with anesthetics or numbing medicines.

  • Use of cigarettes, alcohol, or illicit drugs.

  • Possibility of pregnancy, if this applies.

  • History of bleeding or blood disorders, including blood clots and clotting disorders.

  • Previous surgeries you have had and types of anesthetics you have received.

  • Family medical history, especially anesthetic problems.

  • Other health problems.

BEFORE THE PROCEDURE

  • You may brush your teeth on the morning of surgery but you should have no solid food or non-clear liquids for a minimum of 8 hours prior to your procedure.  Clear liquids (water, black coffee, and tea) are acceptable in small amounts until 2 hours prior to your procedure.

  • You may take your regular medications the morning of your procedure unless your caregiver indicates otherwise.

AFTER THE PROCEDURE

  • After surgery, you will be taken to the recovery area where a nurse will monitor your progress. You will be allowed to go home when you are awake, stable, taking fluids well, and without serious pain or complications.

  • For the first 24 hours following an anesthetic:

  • Have a responsible person with you.

  • Do not drive a car. If you are alone, do not take public transportation.

  • Do not engage in strenuous activity. You may usually resume normal activities the next day, or as advised by your caregiver.

  • Do not drink alcohol.

  • Do not take medicine that has not been prescribed by your caregiver.

  • Do not sign important papers or make important decisions as your judgement may be impaired.

  • You may resume a normal diet as directed.

  • Change bandages (dressings) as directed.

  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines for pain, discomfort, or fever as directed by your caregiver.

If you have questions or problems that seem related to the anesthetic, call the hospital and ask for the anesthetist, anesthesiologist, or anesthesia department.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You develop a rash.

  • You have difficulty breathing.

  • You have chest pain.

  • You have allergic problems.

  • You have uncontrolled nausea.

  • You have uncontrolled vomiting.

  • You develop any serious bleeding, especially from the incision site.