Anesthesia is the use of medicines to control pain and keep a person comfortable. Anesthetics are used to numb a specific area of the body (local and regional anesthesia). Or they can cause a person to be unconscious and not have pain during a procedure such as surgery (general anesthesia).
The types of anesthesia include:
- Sedation. It's medicine that helps the person relax or fall asleep. It may be used with other medicine to reduce pain.
- Local anesthesia. It numbs just a small area of tissue.
- Regional anesthesia. It numbs a larger (but still limited) part of the body and does not make the person unconscious. Spinal and epidural anesthesia are examples of regional anesthesia.
- General anesthesia. It affects the entire body and makes the person unconscious. The person is completely unaware of what is going on and does not feel pain from the surgery or procedure.
The type of anesthesia used depends upon the procedure and the person's health and age.
A person who gets local or regional anesthesia needs to be able to lie still and stay calm during the surgery. Medicine may be given to help the person relax.
Current as of: February 16, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & John M. Freedman MD - Anesthesiology & Heather Quinn MD - Family Medicine