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Care after General Anesthesia

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 4, 2023.

What do I need to know about care after general anesthesia?

You will feel tired and sleepy after anesthesia. It may take some time before you feel like you are back to normal. General anesthesia remains in your body for at least 24 hours.

How can I care for myself for the first 24 hours after I receive general anesthesia?

  • Rest as much as possible. Have someone stay with you. The person should help you sit, lie down, and stand. He or she may need to help you walk around until you are steady.
  • Drink plenty of liquids. Do not drink alcohol. General anesthesia can cause you to become dehydrated. Alcohol can make dehydration worse.
  • Eat light meals and snacks. This may help you manage nausea and vomiting.
  • Do not drive. Do not operate mechanical or electrical equipment.
  • Do not make important decisions. An example is signing legal documents.

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • You have trouble breathing.
  • You cough up blood.
  • You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:
    • Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest
    • You may also have any of the following:
      • Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
      • Shortness of breath
      • Nausea or vomiting
      • Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat

When should I seek immediate care?

  • Your leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
  • You continue to have nausea and vomiting after 24 hours.
  • You develop a rash, hives, itching, or swelling.
  • Your pain is worse even after you take pain medicine.

When should I call my doctor or surgeon?

  • You have a fever.
  • You have bleeding at the incision site.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© Copyright Merative 2023 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.