When you think of anesthesia, you might think of going to the dentist or getting your appendix removed. But what is anesthesia? Anesthesia is a medical treatment that uses drugs to prevent pain and sensation during surgery or other procedures. It can be given through an IV, injected into a muscle, inhaled, or applied to the skin.

There are different types of anesthesia, and the type you receive depends on the procedure you’re having done. General anesthesia affects your whole body and puts you to sleep. Local anesthesia numbs a specific area. And regional anesthesia numbs a larger size, like your leg or arm.

Types of Anesthesia

There are three main types of anesthesia: general, local, and regional.

General anesthesia is used for major surgery that requires you to be asleep and pain-free. It’s usually given through an IV in your arm. You might also have other medications through the IV to make you sleepy and comfortable. Once the IV is in place, the anesthesiologist will monitor your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and level of consciousness.

Local anesthesia numbs a small area so you won’t feel pain during a minor procedure, like getting stitches or a tetanus shot. The anesthetic is usually injected directly into the tissue around where the doctor will be working. You’ll stay awake and be able to go home soon after the procedure is done.

Regional anesthesia numbs a more extensive area by injection near nerves that supply sensation to that part of your body. There are three types of regional anesthesia: spinal (also called epidural), which numbs your lower body; peripheral nerve blocks, which numb a specific area like your hand or foot; and caudal block, which is used mainly in children and numbs the lower half of your body below the waist. With regional anesthesia, you’ll be awake but not feel pain in the numb area during surgery.

Anesthesia is a medical treatment that uses drugs to prevent pain during surgery or other procedures. It can be given through an IV, injected into a muscle, inhaled, or applied to the skin. There are different types of anesthesia depending on whether you need to be asleep (general), have a small area numb (local), or have a large area numb (regional). Your doctor will decide what type is best for you, depending on your procedure.

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