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Anesthesia controls pain during surgery or another kind of procedure.
Anesthesia will help relax your child and block pain. It could also make your child sleepy or forgetful. Or it may make him or her unconscious. It depends on what kind your child gets.
Your child's anesthesia provider (anesthesiologist) will make sure your child is comfortable and safe during the procedure or surgery.
There are different types of anesthesia.
The type of anesthesia your child has depends on many things, such as:
You will talk with the anesthesia provider about the options. You may be able to choose the type of anesthesia your child gets.
Major side effects are not common. But all types of anesthesia have some risk. The risk depends on your child's overall health. It also depends on the type of anesthesia and how your child responds to it. Serious but rare risks include breathing problems and a reaction to the medicine.
Some health conditions increase the risk of problems. Your child's anesthesia provider will find out about any health problems your child has that could affect his or her care.
If your child has food in his or her stomach before surgery, food could be inhaled (aspirated) into the lungs. So it's important that your child have an empty stomach.
The anesthesia provider will closely watch your child's vital signs during anesthesia and surgery. This includes checking blood pressure and heart rate. This may help your child avoid problems.
Children do better if they know what to expect. You can make it less scary by being calm and talking about what will happen. Explain to your child that he or she will be in a strange place, but that many doctors and nurses will be there to help.
Tell your child that there may be some discomfort or pain after the procedure. But remind him or her that you will be close by. Bring books or toys to comfort and distract your child.
Before your child gets anesthesia:
Many children are nervous before they have anesthesia and surgery. Ask your doctor about ways to help your child relax. These may include relaxation exercises or medicine.
Other common side effects of anesthesia include:
After minor surgery, your child may go home the same day. After other types of surgery, your child may stay in the hospital. Your doctor will check on your child's recovery from the anesthesia and answer any questions.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
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Current as of: December 13, 2018
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & John M. Freedman, MD - Anesthesiology
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