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.
Medicines cure infectious diseases, prevent problems from chronic diseases, and ease pain. But medicines can also cause harmful reactions if not used correctly. Errors can happen in the hospital, at the doctor’s office, at the pharmacy, or at home. You can help prevent errors by
- Knowing your medicines. Keep a list of the names of your medicines, how much you take, and when you take them. Include over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and supplements and herbs. Take this list to all your doctor visits.
- Reading medicine labels and following the directions. Don’t take medications prescribed for someone else.
- Taking extra caution when giving medicines to children.
- Asking questions. If you don’t know the answers to these questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
- Why am I taking this medicine?
- What are the common problems to watch out for?
- What should I do if they occur?
- When should I stop this medicine?
- Can I take this medicine with the other medicines on my list?
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention