Information for Patients
If you are having surgery, your doctor will give you medicine called an anesthetic. Anesthetics reduce or prevent pain. There are three main types:
- Local - numbs one small area of the body. You stay awake and alert.
- Regional - blocks pain in an area of the body, such an arm or leg. A common type is epidural anesthesia, which is often used during childbirth.
- General - makes you unconscious. You do not feel any pain, and you do not remember the procedure afterwards.
You may also get a mild sedative to relax you. You stay awake but may not remember the procedure afterwards. Sedation can be used with or without anesthesia.
The type of anesthesia or sedation you get depends on many factors. They include the procedure you are having and your current health.
Most of the time, medicines make our lives better. They reduce aches and pains, fight infections, and control problems such as high blood pressure or diabetes. But medicines can also cause unwanted reactions.
One problem is interactions, which may occur between
- Two drugs, such as aspirin and blood thinners
- Drugs and food, such as statins and grapefruit
- Drugs and supplements, such as ginkgo and blood thinners
- Drugs and diseases, such as aspirin and peptic ulcers
Interactions can change the actions of one or both drugs. The drugs might not work, or you could get side effects.
Side effects are unwanted effects caused by the drugs. Most are mild, such as a stomach aches or drowsiness, and go away after you stop taking the drug. Others can be more serious.
Drug allergies are another type of reaction. They can be mild or life-threatening. Skin reactions, such as hives and rashes, are the most common type. Anaphylaxis, a serious allergic reaction, is more rare.
When you start a new prescription or over-the-counter medication, make sure you understand how to take it correctly. Know which other medications and foods you need to avoid. Ask your health care provider or pharmacist if you have questions.