Anesthesia is a routine part of medical practices and routines. It is a drug administered to relieve pain for patients undergoing surgery of any kind. Although it is commonly used, many people still find the concept of ‘going under’ very daunting. The prospect of having consciousness taken from you is scary and unfamiliar. From its history to the risks, this blog will highlight everything you need to know about anesthesia in order to mitigate any trepidation you might be having around the process.
For hundreds of years, people have received treatment to alleviate symptoms of pain during medical procedures. Whilst early methods to treat pain would be considered very dangerous today, the concept remains the same: to alleviate symptoms of pain, injury, or surgical procedures by inducing an unconscious state.
It was not until 1844 that Gardner Quincy Colton demonstrated the latest discoveries, including the inhalation of nitrous oxide. Horace Wells, a dentist, saw this demonstration and realized this might be the best way to help relieve the pain of his patients. However, his experiments did not go to plan. However, William Morton, who was a student of Well’s, tried and tested the method. He then had surgery performed on Edward Gilbert Abbot whilst he was under anesthesia. Abbot showed no signs of distress, and from here, a new era in medical history dawned.
How it is used
Today anesthesia is used for main medical procedures. It is still used to induce unconsciousness during surgery. The medicine, which is still made from nitrous Oxide, is administered through a breathing mask or tube, as well as through an IV tube. This will continue throughout the surgery. When the procedure is finished, your anesthetist will stop administering the anesthetic, and patients will slowly wake up post-surgery. They will need to be monitored carefully to make sure that effects wear off safely.
There are a number of different types of anesthesia, including regional anesthesia and local anesthesia. Each will be used in different circumstances depending on the procedure a patient is having. For example, epidural anesthesia is used in the spine of pregnant women during labor.
While modern medicine has come in leaps and bounds since the days Abbot received the first anesthesia, or since Shakespeare watched surgeries performed without pain treatment, there are still many risks that should be considered. For example, people can have serious allergic reactions to the medicine, and errors administering the drug can also take place. You need to read this handy article on the errors in anesthesia to understand more about the risks that can take place.
Modern medicine is not without its flaws. However, the evolution of anesthesia shows how the developments of science can have a huge impact on the types of treatments people can receive today. There was a moment in history that people would choose death over surgery because the pain would be unbearable; however, today, a simple anesthetic makes all the difference.