- Cancer Information
- Cancer treatment
- Recovery after surgery
- Side effects of general anaesthetic
Side effects of general anaesthetic
General anaesthesia is very safe, but like any medical procedure you may experience some side effects. Most side effects occur immediately after surgery and don’t last long. Tell your medical team if any of these side effects get worse or worry you.
|Nausea and vomiting||You may feel nauseous or vomit within 24 hours of surgery, but medicines can control these side effects. Sometimes vomiting makes you feel better. Some people continue to feel nauseous for the first few days after they are discharged from hospital but this will improve.|
|Chills and dizziness||Your body may cool down after surgery, so you could feel cold and shiver. During surgery and recovery, your temperature will be maintained, usually with warm blankets. Some people feel dizzy from the anaesthetic or because they may be dehydrated. You will be monitored to make sure you aren’t getting an infection.|
|Agitation||You might cry or feel restless and anxious when you wake up. Some people feel like their arms or legs are twitchy. This is a normal reaction.|
|Sore throat or hoarseness||The tube put in your throat to help you breathe during surgery can leave you with a sore throat or a hoarse voice after the tube is removed. This should get better in a few days.|
|Mental effects||You may feel confused, groggy or “fuzzy” in the minutes or hours after you wake up, and you may not remember why you had surgery.
Most people make a full recovery within a few hours. In some cases, this may take days, particularly in elderly people and those who had memory problems before surgery.
Rarely, people have ongoing mental effects (such as fogginess or mild memory loss) for a week or several months after surgery. This is called postoperative cognitive dysfunction. The reasons for this are unknown.
Prof Andrew Spillane, Surgical Oncologist, Melanoma Institute of Australia, and Professor of Surgical Oncology, The University of Sydney Northern Clinical School, NSW; Lynne Hendrick, Consumer; Judy Holland, Physiotherapist, Calvary Mater Newcastle, NSW; Kara Hutchinson, Cancer Nurse Coordinator, St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, VIC; A/Prof Declan Murphy, Urologist and Director of Genitourinary Oncology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Prof Stephan Schug, Director of Pain Medicine, Royal Perth Hospital, and Chair of Anaesthesiology and Pain Medicine, The University of Western Australia Medical School, WA; Dr Emma Secomb, Specialist Surgeon, Hinterland Surgical Centre, QLD. We would like to thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
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