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The Risks of Anesthesia in Sleep Apnea Patients

Jun 11, 2008
If you suffer from sleep apnea, you need to be aware of the risks of anesthesia. While there are many real and potentially serious concerns, the negative effects of anesthesia can be minimized or even eliminated with the proper procedures and careful monitoring.

What Do I Do If I Need Surgery?

First, its very important that the anesthesiologist is aware of your sleep apnea. Precautionary measures have to be taken to be sure that any breathing problems dont endanger your time under anesthesia. In obstructive sleep apnea, the airways narrow when the throat muscles relax. This can affect the brain as the normal flow of oxygen to the lungs is interrupted.

The brain will sense the reduced lack of oxygen and will signal you to wake up. When you are under anesthesia, this is not possible. Being under anesthesia also contributes to more interrupted breathing spells. When an anesthesiologist has a patient with sleep apnea, he will take special care to keep airways open. Close monitoring is kept on the patient in surgery and in the recovery room.

Side effects from anesthesia can linger for hours after surgery so constant care is given to the patient during this time. A Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine may be used to ensure the airways remain open for an even, continuous flow of oxygen. Generally as the body adjusts to the medications given for surgery, the immediate dangers will pass. In some severe cases, mechanical ventilation may need to be given.

Is Canceling My Surgery an Option?

There is no need to cancel needed surgery because of the potentially negative effects of anesthesia on your sleep apnea condition. But it's vital to let all the medical personnel know that you have this disorder. By doing this, you will give your medical team the time they need to set up a plan for monitoring you during surgery and the critical time immediately afterward.

It should be noted that many times people are not aware that they have sleep apnea, which can cause complications in surgery. If you are not sure you have this condition, or if you suspect that you do, a few simple questions may lead you to an answer. Do you snore? Do you feel tired and groggy in the mornings? Do you fall asleep during the day? If you can answer "yes" to these questions, perhaps you should speak to your doctor about the possibility of sleep apnea. Diagnosing sleep apnea before having anesthesia is a crucial first step to your total recovery.
About the Author
Having trouble finding effective sleep apnea cures? Visit the Apnea Guide website at http://www.apneaguide.com for helpful information about getting rid of a sleep apnea problem and finally getting a good night's sleep again.
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