3 Myths About Anesthesia | True or False?


After being in use for almost 200 years now, it’s safe to say that most people take anesthesia for granted. However, even after all this time, it’s common to hear myths about anesthesia and its effects — everything from the common misunderstanding to completely outlandish claims in their own right. With millions of people undergoing surgeries with the help of these pain-relieving medications each year, it’s time we’ve gotten some answers!

So now let’s take a look at how many of these myths about anesthesia are worth their weight in saline solution…

3 Myths About Anesthesia Busted!

1. Smokers need more anesthesia than nonsmokers

As many anesthesiologists will probably tell you, it seems as though people who smoke tobacco actually need heavier doses of anesthesia to effectively reduce the pain of surgery. After years of suspicion, preliminary research by the European Society of Anesthesiology has started to confirm one of these myths about anesthesia.

myths about anesthesia

Smoking can have an affect on how much anesthesia patients need!

The study compared smoking and non-smoking women to find that the smokers needed 33 percent more anesthesia during their operations — and those exposed to secondhand smoke needed 20 percent more! Additionally, both smoking and second-hand smoke groups needed higher doses of painkiller medications following the procedures.

2. Even with anesthesia, you can wake up during surgery!

It seems like a scene out of the 2007 film “Awake,” the uncomfortable truth is that yes, you can actually regain consciousness while under general anesthesia. Yikes! Just keep in mind that this phenomenon is extremely rare, and is only a result of very uncommon conditions.

myths about anesthesia

It’s not impossible, but it is extremely rare that people wake up while under anesthesia!

According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, the main effects of anesthesia include unconsciousness, pain relief, and stifled bodily movement. Should the first two effects fail, patients may wake up during surgery. In rare instances, all three effects can wear off to the extent that someone becomes aware, feels pain, and may regain limited movement without the ability to communicate to doctors. Luckily, physicians use brain-monitoring devices to fully measure a patient’s consciousness to avoid such nightmarish situations!

3. Redheads Need More Anesthesia

As one of the most widely-spread urban myths in the anesthesiology community for years, more recent studies have finally begun to put this myth to rest… at least in part. Some of the original research supporting this myth claimed that “red hair appears to be a distinct phenotype linked to anesthetic requirement in humans that can also be traced to a specific genotype.”

myths about anesthesia

The MC1R mutation is responsible for those copper-locks… and possibly more anesthesia?

To be fair, people with the MC1R mutation causing red hair are generally more sensitive to opiate painkillers — meaning they need less — but they are also less sensitive to others like lidocaine injections, a form of local anesthesia.

So, while some forms of anesthesia used for localized pain relief may be less effective, there seem to be no statistical differences for other types of general anesthesia. So myth half-busted!

Sure, there are lots of different views on anesthesia and more research can be done on this nearly 200-year-old medication — however, anesthesia is nearly 50 times safer than it was since we began using it in the 1840’s. Like anything in the world of medicine, there are always risks and potential complications, but that’s why you’ll find only the top anesthesiology locum tenens physician jobs right here on LocumJobsOnline.com!

Author: Connor Smith

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