What are the Dangers of Anesthesia?

There are many dangers of anesthesia, but risks are often outweighed by significant benefits. All forms of anesthesia, even local types, can carry risk of allergic reaction. Further, anesthesia is essentially exposing the body to controlled levels of toxic chemicals in order to either stop pain temporarily or to induce a semi-conscious or unconscious state. Despite dangers of anesthesia, pain relief, or conditions that threaten life or quality of life tend to be worth the risk.

Because most people who administer anesthesia are trained specifically in anesthesiology, complications related to anesthesia have decreased. In particular, measurements of body chemistry and body functions during anesthesia administration have become very precise. Thus if a problem occurs during administration of a drug, it is usually addressed immediately.

Problems are more likely to occur when a person who is not a trained anesthesiologist administers anesthesia. In general, it is best to request a specialist, and further to not use doctors with dubious reputations. Most often, people have had difficulty when they attempt to have plastic surgery performed for cheap prices. A doctor who performs surgery in a “back room” may not be licensed or experienced in addressing problems that might occur during anesthesia.

Certain facts about the dangers of anesthesia are well known. In general, those who are very ill, extremely young, or elderly have increased risks of anesthesia related deaths, generally as a result of general anesthesia, which induces unconsciousness. Further, certain conditions may increase the dangers of anesthesia. Those with cardiac conditions, brain injury, or dysfunction of the liver may be at greater risk during surgery than those who are healthy.

The most common of the dangers of anesthesia is allergic reaction to one of the medications used. This again is usually noted and addressed immediately, since most patients undergoing general anesthesia are constantly monitored. Those who have an allergic reaction to a local anesthetic are likely to react fairly immediately. Dentists and doctors who use local anesthetics do have emergency supplies on hand should an allergic reaction occur.

Dangers of anesthesia to unborn children have also been well established. Women used to routinely be anesthetized during childbirth, but this is seldom the case now, even during cesarean sections. Instead women who must deliver via cesarean section tend to have an epidural, which blocks sensation from the abdomen downward. This minimizes anesthesia exposure to the baby.
Studies in 2003 show that drugs used in general anesthesia kill brain cells in developing rats and mice. Though these studies require follow-up with human populations, some have theorized that the dangers of anesthesia used in children may be greater than previously estimated. One might not only risk death but also interference in brain development, and perhaps long term memory issues or learning disabilities.

It has also been suggested that one of the possible dangers of anesthesia might be risky to the brain of healthy adults. Could anesthesia cause brain damage significant enough to affect memory, or to hasten conditions like Alzheimer’s disease? These are questions that have yet to be proven, and there are no statistics which can ultimately assess risk. Again, benefits of surgery generally outweigh the possible dangers of anesthesia.

This is particularly the case with children. Few children have elective surgeries. They often require them in order to fix severe health problems. Often one risks not only the dangers of anesthesia but also the surgery itself. While surgery of any kind is not without risk, ever, only part of the danger can be attributed to anesthesia.

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