Anesthesia, How much do you really know?

By: Virgil Jacobs | Contributing AOJ Journalist

Anesthesia is made to create a lack of connection between the brain and body’s pain receptors and signals. Typically, the human brain would be able to remember events or flashes, certain things would stick with you by memory of association. But in the state of “Anesthesia” it is completely interrupted so that one can’t recall their procedure at all; people can’t feel pain during said operations as well. Yet, some people have reactions to anesthesia. Reactions can vary from complete loss of control that spin a person into a daze of swinging their fists, OR to the simple effect of being a little dizzy. It makes people wonder what is in anesthesia, as well as raise some morality issues people may have. This is a question that sticks with people when someone close to them, or themselves, have been through the rough side of anesthesia. How much does the public really know? 

 Typically, the two main sources that anesthesia is administered would be Intravaineus (through the veins) or by inhalation. Intravaineus is a technique in which the IV of an individual is filled with a specified dose and/or type. Which further confuses the general public. There are different types of anesthesia? It ranges from the most common type “General Anesthesia” to “Regional Anesthetics”. The common type is defined by the conglomerate that Doctors or Physicians will use most frequently throughout their practice. However, the first distinction one needs to make and understand completely is that all types of anesthesia ARE NOT one medication; anesthesia is a combined bunch of different medications. However, the goal of these collective drugs is to achieve the anesthesia state, which is again, a complete lack of consciousness and feeling depending on the type. Immobility would be another goal to add to that list, since having a moving piece of body, or some strange moving reaction would cause immense problems and difficulty during the assigned procedure. Other variations of Anesthesia have specific uses, however, consisting of leg, spinal, neck, and ear Anesthesia. Ranging from these examples to a great variety of the human body, these are all called Regional Anesthetics.

How?

Doctors are still puzzled on how anesthesia achieves this state, and or how it works. But licensed anesthesiologists must monitor the patient, and this is how the risk from anesthesia will be limited. First off, what is an EKG? EKG(The Electrocardiogram) is a device that measures the rhythm and general health of the heart. It is one of the most important machines for the duties of the anesthesiologist. It makes sure the heart is correctly beating, and correctly pumping.

It was proven that several common types of anesthetics have a common system of connecting themselves to the GABAa Receptor in the brain’s neurons. They hold the gateway between the nervous system and brain open, which allows negatively charged particles to get through the once closed gateway, which is made directly to open and close based on the negative charge. Once through, the negative charges fill up the gateway, and build up. This keeps the brain from getting electrical signals from neurons. There is an abundance of these sort of bridges in the nervous system; They typically control the movement, consciousness, and memory of an individual. Generally, anesthetics apply themselves to more than just one of these bridges, and or sections of the nervous system. Yet, Anesthesia can still as well affect the major organs. 

An anesthesiologist has a complex job. There are dangers to modern medicine, serious and life threatening consequences. Medications must be carefully mixed and/or balanced to achieve that state of anesthesia, and the patient must be monitored with said vital readings and machinery. Not only must an anesthesiologist just apply the drugs and hope that the drugs will react well with the patient, but must also literally change the mixtures as needed on the spot. During the operation, there is immense confusion within this thought. Every patient has different reactions and different levels of everything, which makes the job that much harder.

  The administration of anesthesia is chosen by a few parameters, such as, if the operations duration is greater than 2 or 3 hours, if your surgery contains the risk of breathing problems during the procedure, if the problem that the patient needs the surgeon to cover is a large portion of their body, if the operation details are demanding to touch and/or operate on important organs, and if the procedure would cause you to lose a great amount of blood. It is then up to the anesthesiologists to determine what medications to combine, and how much of that said combination will be needed to get the patient into a “medically induced coma”.  The coma, however, reacts with the patient to make him/her stable, the outcome of the coma is unknown. Doctors have said to people that changes from the effects of anesthesia could be permanent, which has scared many people. The Outcome of anesthesia isn’t really known. The properties and reactions that create this outcome is generally just a mystery. As said before, One could hallucinate while coming out of the state, or be completely fine. Physicians and anesthesiologists are still unsure on what determines these things, which makes anesthesia very strange. 

According to “https://www.asahq.org/whensecondscount/anesthesia-101/effects-of-anesthesia/

Side effects of Anesthesia can happen during or after the procedure. After the use of general anesthesia, side effects known to be caused are the following:

  • Nausea and Vomiting: the first few days, out of general anesthesia. It is due to some medications mixing with the crumbs of anesthesia, and movement after the surgery.
  • Sore throat: the tube that was mentioned earlier, that the anesthesiologist must insert into your throat, can cause redness and pain after the surgery is over.
  • Post-operative delirium: controlling your consciousness and regaining it is quite difficult in an environment your not familiar with, like when waking from general anesthesia, but this is mostly applied to the older generation; since older people are more susceptible to these kind of mental effects due to age. But typically, if the patient after surgery would do something normally as they would do in daily life, it has been noticed by scientists to improve coming back to the senses, an example would be wearing your glasses, hearing aids, etc.
  • Muscle aches: the cause of this would be perhaps the medicine that the anesthesiologist diagnosed to relax your muscles, as well as, the previously mentioned breathing tube that is used to help the patient breath under anesthesia could make your throat sore too. 
  • Itching is a fairly common thing to have after using narcotics, which is classified as “sometimes” used in general anesthesia to remove pain from the individual. 
  • Chills and shivering, because after the cold surgery room, and general exposure to the body, patients can wake up with hypothermia. To prevent this, most people are given a heated blanket after surgery.. 

 There are 4 actual stages to anesthesia from “https://www.medicaldaily.com/dazed-sedated-and-confused-why-does-anesthesia-make-us-act-way-we-do-269881” These stages define the process of anesthesia as well as what happens during it. 

  • Stage 1: Induction is defined as the period when patients are barely feeling effects, however not unconscious.
  • Stage 2: Excitement, unconscious with slight twitching, and the breathing of the patient is normal.
  • Stage 3: “Anesthesieized” when the patient has become completely taken over by the state of anesthesia.
  • Stage 4: Emergency which is not in the safe process. It occurs in an error of drug balancing, usually when the patient comes out with brain damage or perhaps even death; a drug overdose.

Anesthesia is an interesting bundle of medical information, for the betterment of surgery purposes. To keep the patient from feeling pain, waking up, and any other problem that could arise from surgery. The actual procedure to keep anesthesia working and starting said technique, is what doctors understand. But how the state is achieved and why this state happens is still a mystery to this day. Anesthesia has side effects though, some that could be permanent, and it’s something that doctors, and patients, should be aware of, and ready to face the consequences. However, the cases of this happening are few. Doctors don’t understand why people have certain reactions. All people should know this before being given surgery, and giving surgery. To become aware of this is a vital step in knowledge for the public, and good preparation for future reference, or for looking over the past.

WebMD. (n.d.). What Is General Anesthesia? Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-general-anesthesia#1

TahoeDoc. (2017, April 19). How Does Anesthesia Affect the Body? Retrieved from https://healthproadvice.com/procedures/How-Does-Anesthesia-Affect-the-Body

Bushak, L. (2014, February 21). Dazed, Sedated, And Confused: Why Does Anesthesia Make Us Act The Way We Do? Retrieved from https://www.medicaldaily.com/dazed-sedated-and-confused-why-does-anesthesia-make-us-act-way-we-do-269881

American Society of Anesthesiologists. (n.d.). Effects of Anesthesia on Brain & Body. Retrieved from https://www.asahq.org/whensecondscount/anesthesia-101/effects-of-anesthesia/

2 comments

  1. Nice article. When you reference “regional” anesthesia, is that the same thing as “local” anesthesia, as in only affects a local/regional part of the body?

    A great job might be to become an anesthesiologist. Pay is excellent and you would be definitely doing something to make the world a better place. 🙂

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