Anaesthesia explained

Published: 01/03/2021

How did it all go?

Occasionally, problems happen during an anaesthetic which may affect you the next time you need an anaesthetic. For example, you may have had an allergic reaction to a drug, or it may have been difficult to place a breathing tube in your airway. Your anaesthetist will have told you about anything significant that has happened. It will be recorded in your hospital notes and your GP should be told. It is helpful though to ask for a letter explaining the problem if one is not offered. You can then make sure that any future anaesthetist knows all about it – particularly at a different hospital or overseas.

After an anaesthetic  

How you feel afterwards depends mainly on the operation you have had, and on the pain-relief medicine that you need to treat any pain that you have.

General anaesthetics can cause side effects which are generally short-lived (last a few hours). 

You may feel tired or even exhausted for some days after an operation. After major surgery, this can last for weeks or months and is very unlikely to be caused by the anaesthetic. Causes of tiredness after surgery include:

  • anxiety
  • poor sleep patterns
  • pain
  • blood loss causing anaemia
  • the condition that needed the surgery, and
  • poor eating and drinking.

These will gradually improve as you leave hospital and you are healing.