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Sedation for a Medical Procedure

After Your Visit

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You may have been given a mix of sedatives (medicine to help you relax) and analgesics (medicine to help with pain) when you had your procedure or surgery.

The medicines you were given may make you feel relaxed and lessen pain for up to 24 hours. As the medicines wear off, you may feel some pain or discomfort. If you have pain, don't be afraid to say so. Pain medicine works better if you take it before the pain gets bad.

Side effects of the medicines may include:

  • a headache or feeling dizzy
  • feeling tired
  • feeling sick to your stomach (common) or throwing up (rare)

Because of these common side effects, you’ll stay until it’s safe for you to go home. Because you were given sedation, someone must go home with you.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Activity

In the 8 hours after you were given sedation:
  • have a responsible person stay with you and care for any children
  • do not drive, use machinery, and/or sign legal or financial documents
If you’re on CPAP or BiPAP because you have obstructive sleep apnea, make sure to use your CPAP or BiPAP machine for the 24 hours after you were given sedation anytime there is a chance that you could fall asleep (for example, reading, watching TV).

Diet

  • You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
  • Drink fluids to keep your urine pale yellow (unless your doctor tells you not to) to replace fluids you may have lost as part of getting ready for the procedure.
  • Do not drink alcohol for 24 hours.

Medicines

  • If you have pain, be safe with your medicine. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you aren’t taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over the counter pain medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®).
  • If you think your pain medicine is upsetting your stomach:
    • take your medicine after meals (unless your doctor has told you not to)
    • ask your doctor for a different pain medicine
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the antibiotics until the bottle is finished (empty).

​When should you call for help?

Call 911 if:

  • you‘re having chest pain or trouble breathing
  • you think you may need emergency care

Call your doctor or nurse call line now, or see a doctor right away if:

  • you’re finding it harder to stay awake
  • you have a headache that isn’t getting better with pain ​medicine
  • you’ve been throwing up for more than 24 hours

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to speak with your doctor if you have any concerns.

Current as of: January 19, 2017

Author: Anesthesiology, Alberta Health Services