How Long Does General Anesthesia Last?

Anesthesia is a medication that prevents cases from feeling pain during childbirth or surgery.

Types of anesthesia

  • General anesthesia is used for major operations, causes loss of consciousness, puts you to sleep, and makes you incapable of moving.
  • Sedation, often used for minimally invasive operations, blocks pain and causes sleepiness but does not put you to sleep.
  • Regional anesthesia, such as epidural or a tissue block, numbs a large part of the body while you remain awake. Doctors often use local anesthesia with general anesthesia and sedation.
  • Local anesthesia uses numb just a small area of your body for minor procedures, such as getting stitches or removing a mole.
How Long Does General Anesthesia Last?
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Table of Contents

How long does anesthesia last?

  • Intravenous therapy pain medication can help for up to 7-8 hours.
  • Spinal blocks can relieve pain for 24-48 hours.
  • Epidurals are long-lasting, easing pain for up to 4-5 days.
  • A nerve block can help pain for 12-24 hours.

When is general anesthesia used?

General anesthesia is very safe. Even if you have health problems, you will most likely stand general anesthesia without severe problems.
But with any prescription or medical procedure, you may experience some side effects.

How long does general anesthesia last?

General anesthesia puts you typically to sleep in less than 30 seconds.

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What short-term side effects?

Side effects of general anesthesia happen immediately after your operation and don’t last long. Once the surgery is done, and anesthesia medicines are stopped, you’ll slowly wake up in the operating room or recovery room. 

You’ll probably feel tired and confused.

You may also feel common side effects:

  • Nausea and vomiting. It is a common side effect that usually occurs immediately after the procedure, but some people may continue to feel weak for a day or two. Anti-nausea drugs can help.

For further knowledge about vomiting: Headache And Vomiting

  • Dry mouth. You may feel a dry mouth when you wake up. As long as you are not too nauseated, sipping water can help take care of your mouth.
  • Hoarseness or Sore throat The tube put in your throat to help you move when surgery can give you a sore throat after it’s removed.

To learn more, you can read: Is my Sore throat Covid or allergies?

  • Chills and shivering. It is usual for your body temperature to drop during general anesthesia. Your doctors and nurses will ensure your temperature doesn’t fall too much when surgery, but you may wake up feeling cold and shivering. 
  • Fuzzy thinking or confusion. When first waking from anesthesia, you feel confused and tired.

This usually lasts for some hours, but confusion can last for some people, particularly older adults.

  • Muscle pains. The drugs used to relax muscles during operation can cause soreness.
  • Itching. If narcotic medications are used during or after your operation, you may be itchy. It is a common side effect of this class of drugs.
  • Bladder problems. Difficulty passing urine for a short-term time after general anesthesia.
  • Dizziness. You may be feeling dizzy when you wake up. Drinking fluids to help you feel good.

Must read: Viral Dizziness Symptoms

long-term side effects

Most people won’t feel long-term side effects. 

However, older adults are more likely to feel side effects that last more than a few days.

  • Postoperative delirium. Some people may become confused or have difficulty getting things after surgery. It can come and go, but it usually goes away after about a week.
  • Postoperative cognitive dysfunction  Some people may feel continuous memory loss problems or different types of cognitive impairment after surgery. 
  • But it is unlikely that this is the result of the anesthesia. It appears to be a result of the surgery itself.
  • Some studies that people over age 60 may be more likely to develop Postoperative cognitive dysfunction 
  • You may also be also likely to develop Postoperative cognitive dysfunction. 

 if you have:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  •  Stroke
  • heart disease
  • lung problems

Risk for side effects

General anesthesia is very safe. It is the surgical procedure itself that puts you at risk. But older people and those who have long procedures are most at risk of side effects.

If you have the following conditions, be assured to tell your doctor because this situation can affect how well you do when and after surgery:

  • Sleep apnea
  • History of adverse reactions to anesthesia
  • Lung disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Drug allergies
  • Seizures
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease

You should also let your doctor understand if you:

  • Use alcohol heavily
  • Take blood-thinning medications
  • Smoke

Is it possible to wake up during surgery?

Rarely, people may be conscious of what’s going on through surgery. Some specialists think that about 1 out of every 1,000 people recover consciousness but remain unable to move, talk, or otherwise inform their doctor.

Other specialists report it is even rarer, as infrequent as 1 out of 15,000 or 1 out of 23,000.

When this occurs, the person usually doesn’t feel any pain. However, the operative experience can be very distressing and may cause long-term psychical problems related to post-traumatic stress disorder.

If you feel operative consciousness under general anesthesia, you may find it beneficial to talk to a doctor about your experience.

General anesthesia used over other methods?

If you require surgery, you probably don’t want to know what’s going on. Depending on the surgery, this can be performed in a variety of ways.

Your doctor will likely suggest general anesthesia if your procedure is going to:

  • Affect your breathing
  • Take a long time
  • Result in blood loss

General anesthesia is typically a medically induced coma. Your doctor gives medication to make you unconscious so that you won’t move or feel any pain during the surgery.

can prepare other procedures with:

  • Local anesthetic, like when you get stitches in your hand
  • Sedation, like when you get a colonoscopy
  • A regional anesthetic, like when you get an epidural to deliver a baby

Your doctor will walk you through your different options when planning for your procedure. In addition, they’ll be ready to answer any questions you may have about what will be used and why.


You need to talk with your doctors about all your health information. Your anesthesiologist can safely guide your care and manage your side effects, but if you’re honest.

When you talk with your anesthesiologist and surgeon before the procedure, be assured to talk with them about your concerns and expectations. You should also consult your:

  • Health conditions
  • Medication use
  • Recreational drug use
  • Prior anesthesia experience

Be sure to understand all of your presurgery guidance — including what you can or can not eat and drink as well as medicines you should or shouldn’t take. Following these instructions can help reduce some side effects of general anesthesia.

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