What is anesthesia?

Anesthesia is a safe and effective means of alleviating pain during nearly every type of medical procedure.  There are three basic types:

  • General:  produces a loss of sensation throughout the entire body
  • Regional:  produces a loss of sensation to a specific region of the body
  • Local:  produces a loss of sensation to a small, specific area of the body

Anesthesia is highly specialized to each patient’s needs.  Before surgery, your doctor and CRNA need to know all the prescription and over the counter (OTC) drugs you are taking to determine that the drugs used during your surgery will not have any unexpected side effects.

You will also be asked a number of very detailed and personal questions about your health, your surgery and your lifestyle.
A recent sickness, a heart condition or alcohol consumption can each affect how your body will react to a given anesthesia drug.

Don’t:

  • Drive a car or operate complex equipment for 24 hours after surgery.
  • Make any important decisions or sign legal documents the day after surgery.
  • Drink alcohol for 24 hours after surgery.
  • Take any medications, drugs or supplements unless your doctor has given the ok…this includes sleeping pills, aspirin, herbal supplements and over the counter medications.

Do:

  • Drink plenty of liquids.
  • Plan ahead so you can rest the day after surgery.
  • Call your surgeon or nurse anesthetist if you have questions about your recovery.

Whether you are having major surgery or an outpatient procedure, planning ahead can help speed your recovery.

Before you leave home:

  • Arrange for deposits of income and paying of bills that will become due during your hospital stay and your first few weeks of recovery.
  • Stock up on grocery staples.
  • Fill your freezer with easy to prepare meals.
  • Have any prescriptions filled that you may need while recovering.
  • Pick up some books and videos that you have been waiting to enjoy.
  • Arrange for pet care.
  • Look at your home in a new way:
    • If you’ll be using crutches or a walker during your recovery, make sure your home is set up so you can get around as easily as possible.
    • Consider moving to a downstairs bedroom until you can comfortably navigate stairs.
    • To reduce bending and stretching, be sure the table next to your bed is large enough to hold everything you might need.

Part of ease of recovery is knowing what to expect after the surgery.  Be sure you ask you doctor or nurse anesthetist:

  • What’s involved in this operation? How long will it take?
  • How long will I stay in the hospital?
  • How much time is required for rehabilitation? Will I need physical therapy? In the hospital or at home?
  • Will I need crutches or a walker while I recover?
  • How much time will I have to take off from work?
  • Is a blood transfusion necessary? Can I donate my own blood in advance?
  • What after-surgery care will I need? Will I need home nursing, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, or a nutritionist?
  • What are some common side effects of any post-surgery medications that might be prescribed?

Drug Safety

Before surgery, your doctor and CRNA need to know all the prescription and over the counter (OTC) drugs you are taking so they can make sure that the drugs used during your surgery will not have any unexpected side effects.

Before taking any new drug or medication be sure to discuss it with your doctor or with a CRNA to make sure that it will not interact with another drug you are currently taking.

Ask questions!

Your CRNA, doctor or pharmacist will be able to tell you what kinds of side effects to expect with any drug.

Follow the instructions precisely and finish all medications.

If you experience severe or different side effects, call your doctor immediately.

Drugs, both prescription and over the counter, can cause adverse reactions if they are combined with certain food, drinks, or other drugs.

Check out the following list for some of the more common risks:

  • ACE inhibitors
  • Potassium rich foods which can cause potassium buildup when taken with ACE inhibitors
  • Antibiotics
  • Dairy products and iron which can interfere with proper absorption of some antibiotics
  • Anticoagulants (blood thinners)

The following drugs may strengthen the effect of blood thinners, causing excessive bleeding:

  • Some antibiotics
  • Some anticonvulsants
  • Some antifungals
  • Some anti-acid medications
  • Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS)
    • aspirin/BAYER, ECOTRIN
    • ibuprofen/MOTRIN, ADVIL
    • naproxen/ANAPROX, ALEVE, NAPROSYN
    • ketoprofen/ORUDIS
    • nabumetone/RELAFEN
  • Some thyroid inhibitors and thyroid hormones

The following drugs and foods may weaken the effect of blood thinners:

  • Some barbiturates
  • Foods high in vitamin K (such as broccoli, spinach, kale, turnip greens, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts)

Antidepressants

Decongestants (such as Sudafed) taken with antidepressants such as Luvox, Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft can cause anxiety.

Foods such as aged cheeses and cured meats (sausage, pepperoni and salami) contain tyramine.  Tyramine can cause blood pressure to rise dramatically when taken with certain antidepressants.

Bronchodilators

Food has been shown to adversely affect the active drugs in some bronchodilators. It is important to check with your pharmacist about which form you are taking since food can have different effects depending on the dose form.

Caffeine can cause anxiety when taken with bronchodilators.

Contraceptives

Some antibiotics have been shown to decrease the effect of oral contraceptives.

Diuretics

The following foods can cause potassium buildup when taken with certain diuretics: bananas, green leafy vegetables, and oranges.

Grapefruit

Grapefruit and its juice have been shown to interfere with the proper absorption of most medications.

Iron

Iron can interfere with the absorption of some drugs.

Spinach

Spinach can interfere with the absorption of calcium.

Sun

Certain antibiotics, oral contraceptives and menopause drugs can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.

About Anesthesia

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