General anesthesia features the administration of anesthetic that causes the patients to fall asleep such that they cannot feel anything all through the surgery period. These medications may be administered either intravenously or through the nasal route (some exist in the form of gases and are administered through a tube with oxygen or through a breathing mask). General anesthesia has side effects namely sore throat, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, confusion and shivering. General anesthesia is commonly administered in most surgery procedures, by anesthesiologists like Dr. Robert St. Thomas.

When a patient gets a general anesthesia, he is “put under” which means he is totally unconscious and immobilized. The patient goes to sleep and does not feel or sense or recall anything. No one knows exactly how a general anesthesia works, but the current theory which is widely accepted is that it affects the spinal cord (the reason why the patient remains immobile), the brain reticular activating system (the reason why the patient remains unconscious) and the cerebral cortex (leading to a change in the brain’s electrical activity).

A patient under general anesthesia wears a breathing mask or breathing tube. This is because the muscles are so relaxed that the airways are kept open. A number of vital signs are continually monitored while the patient is under anesthesia. They include:

  • Pulse oximetry
  • Heart rate
  • Blood pressure
  • Respiratory rate
  • Carbon dioxide exhalation levels
  • Temperature
  • The concentration of anesthetic and brain activity.

Understand that during general anesthesia, the patient does not stop breathing. If a loved one stops breathing during a surgery, it may result in a catastrophe. Even if the doctor decides to shield this away from you, there are ways of finding out if this has occurred. Sometimes, the patient may have died already from the brain injury resulting from lack of oxygen. In other cases, hypoxia or anoxia may result from the lack of oxygen. This may be due to the physician’s error during the procedure.

There are two breathing issues associated with anesthesia:

Anoxia:This is a medical term that describes the absence of oxygen. A lot of complications may result from this. Examples include hallucinations, loss of memory, amnesia, confusion and changes in personality. The patient may remain in a vegetative state or may have a cardiac arrest.

Hypoxia: This is simply a deficiency in the amount of oxygen that reaches the tissues. It doesn’t occur only when breathing stops; it also occurs if the amount of oxygen is much lower than normal. This occurs in conditions such as when the tank is operating at a very low capacity (due to a lack of planning on the part of the doctor). Hypoxia can cause damage to the brain or other vital organs. If this occurs for a long period of time, then more damage will be done. If this happens to a patient, it will lead to more complex issues such as heart failure, increased heart rate (tachycardia), depression, or even high blood pressure.


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