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General Anesthesia in Pediatrics


General anesthesia

is medicine that keeps your child asleep during a test, procedure, or surgery. The medicine also helps keep your child pain-free during his care. General anesthesia can be given through an IV or as a gas or vapor that is inhaled. Your child will feel tired and sleepy after anesthesia. It is normal for it to take a few days for him to feel like himself. General anesthesia will remain in your child's body for at least 24 hours.

How to prepare your child the week before anesthesia:

If your child is old enough, talk to him and let him know what to expect. Listen to his fears. Tell him it is okay to be scared. Explain that healthcare providers will make sure he is comfortable. They will make sure he does not feel any pain and stays asleep until the procedure is over. Ask if there is information that explains anesthesia and procedures to you and your child in more detail. Information given in a video or books may be available. Your healthcare provider may be able to take you and your child on a tour of the procedure room. Ask your healthcare provider about any information that may help calm your child's fears.

How to prepare your child the night before anesthesia:

Follow the healthcare provider's instructions. He will tell you not to let your child eat or drink after a certain time. He will tell you what medicines and supplements your child can take or not take before the procedure. Let your child pick out a favorite blanket, stuffed animal, or toy to take with him.

What to expect the morning of anesthesia:

Let healthcare providers know if your child or any family member has ever had problems with anesthesia. Tell them all medicines and supplements your child takes. Also tell them about any health conditions your child has. If your child is anxious, his healthcare provider may give him medicine to calm him before giving him anesthesia. Your child's healthcare provider may let you be with your child until he is asleep.

What to expect after your child has anesthesia:

Your child may be disoriented, confused, or unsteady until he is fully awake. He may also have nausea, vomiting, chills, or shakiness. He may have a sore throat if a breathing tube was used. You will be allowed to be with your child as he recovers from anesthesia. Your child's healthcare providers may need to give him medicines to control nausea and vomiting. They will give you instructions on how to care for your child after the test, procedure, or surgery.

Call 911 if:

  • Your child begins to have trouble breathing.
  • Your child has a seizure.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your child continues to have nausea and vomiting after 24 hours.
  • Your child has pain that gets worse even with medicine.

Contact your child's surgeon or healthcare provider if:

  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child develops a rash, hives, itching, or swelling.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

The first 24 hours after general anesthesia:

  • Have your child rest as much as possible.
  • Have your child drink plenty of liquids. General anesthesia can cause dehydration.
  • Feed your child light meals and snacks. This may help manage nausea and vomiting.
  • If your child is old enough, do not let him drive.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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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.

Further information

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