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The anesthesiologists at St. Joseph Health, Humboldt County provide the expertise and advanced technology to help get patients through all necessary procedures more comfortably and to heal faster.

Anesthesiologists are essential members of the St. Joseph Health surgical and care team. Our anesthesiologists are engaged in a wide array of services, offering expert care during preoperative and intraoperative procedures, all the way through postoperative, critical care and pain management.

What is anesthesia?

Anesthesia is the use of medicine to prevent pain or discomfort during surgery or other procedures. Anesthesia is commonly administered via injection or through inhaled gases. These medicines help patients relax (or go to sleep) so that surgery and other medical procedures can be performed without causing pain and stress. Anesthesia can also help lessen side effects and speed up a patient’s recovery.

General anesthesia
When you need to undergo an invasive or potentially painful medical procedure, you will likely require general anesthesia to help you fall and stay asleep. The anesthesiologist is a doctor who specializes in giving and managing anesthetics, while your surgeon or other specialists perform the actual procedure. The anesthesiologist also utilizes safe, modern monitoring technology to make sure your breathing and heart rate are at optimal levels, and will help you wake up and recover properly after the procedure is over.

Local anesthesia
With local anesthesia, a medication is administered “locally” - with an injection designed to numb a specific area of the body. Local anesthesia is used, for example, when a patient needs stitches, or is having minor skin surgery. When more medicine is required to numb a larger section of the body, that is called regional anesthesia.
Fast-acting topical anesthesia is sometimes also used to numb the site of the injection itself.

What are some of the side effects of anesthesia?

Different types of anesthesia affect the nervous system in different ways. With local anesthesia, there are few noticeable side effects. With general anesthesia, however, a variety of side effects can be experienced both during and after a procedure. Some of these side effects may include: nausea and vomiting, headache, sore throat, muscle aches, itching, confusion, and chills. Be sure to ask your doctor and anesthesiologist about all potential side effects you may encounter with any upcoming procedure.

What to expect after anesthesia?

We are dedicated to ensuring your comfort and safety during your surgical procedure. Advances in anesthesia types and techniques have dramatically improved how a patient feels after surgery. Still, anesthesia drugs can remain in your system for a day or so, and you may feel some effects until they are completely eliminated. If you go home the same day as your surgery, here are a few things to consider as you begin the recovery process:

  • Arrange to have a responsible adult with you in the first 24 hours after your surgery.
  • Give your body adequate time to rest and recover.
  • Drink fluids in small, frequent amounts and eat light initially to minimize the chance of becoming nauseated.
  • Do gentle and progressive activity.
  • Minimize discomfort by taking pain medication as directed by your surgeon. To avoid nausea, do not take these medicines on an empty stomach. Be aware that many pain medications are constipating and a stool softener is often very helpful.
  • Following general anesthesia, taking frequent deep breaths will help to expand your lungs and minimize the chance of developing complications.
  • If you had a general anesthetic, it is not unusual to experience a sore throat. Ice chips and cool fluids (non-carbonated) can be very effective in soothing the soreness.
  • Do not drive, consume alcohol, make any important decisions or operate heavy equipment during the first 24 hours following your procedure.
  • You can return to work when you feel able to do so, as guided by your surgeon and family doctor.
  • Side effects depend on your individual condition and type of surgery.
  • Your surgeon will provide discharge instructions with additional guidance.
  • Should you have any questions, do not hesitate to call your primary doctor or our team for more information.

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