Anesthesia awareness, an actual and terrifying phenomenon

Anesthesia awareness, an actual and terrifying phenomenon

It may seem just a nightmare, but anesthesia awareness actually exists: here’s everything about it.

If you have ever undergone a surgery, or you will, you have certainly thought about what could happen if anesthesia doesn’t work and you wake up in the middle of the operation.

We are talking about anesthesia awareness and it actually exists, even if it’s not that common. In most cases, it causes a horrifying situation, but not everyone agrees with it.

Anesthesia awareness: what it is

Photo source: https://pixabay.com/it/chirurgia-ospedale-medico-3034133/

First of all, let’s tell apart this phenomen, that wakes patients up in the middle of their surgery, and local anesthesia, which purposely leaves the person conscious while the doctor is operating.

The first case is every patient’s worst nightmare. There actually is a movie about this phenomen, which shocked the audience. Anesthesia awareness occurs in about 1-2 people out of 20.000, so it’s pretty rare.

In the middle of the surgery, or more frequently in the first few minutes or at the end of the operation, the patient may suddendly wake up. It is a terrifying feeling. But why does it happen?

Anesthesia awareness, why does it happen?

Waking up during surgery happens because the anesthetic was not enough. It can be a medical error, but it often has different causes. In case of emergency surgery, doctors can decide not to wait for the anesthetic to act, in order not to risk the patient’s life, so they use a smaller quantity of it.

The same thing can happen during an emergency C-section. Moreover, a too high dose of anesthetic can damage the baby. Actually, most of the cases of anesthesia awareness involved women who underwent a C-section (1 case out 670 surgeries).

Anesthesia awareness: what do you feel?

People who experienced this phenomenon were terrified. Most of them felt very strong pain, but the most horrifying thing is the paralysis sensation, which hinders every movement and makes impossible to alert the doctors.

Photo source: https://pxhere.com/it/photo/921869

The paralysis is total, blocking breathing, too. Of course, during the surgery doctors intubate the patient, so the machine helps breathing. However, not being able to breath autonomously creates a choking feeling which gives the sensation of imminent death.

A lot of people who experienced anesthesia awareness were actually shocked, and after the recovery they developed a post-traumatic stress disorder.

However, some people who experienced this phenomen said they did not feel any fears. The patient may not feel any pain or fear. These people explained that they were feeling deeply relaxed, which made them even calmer.

Photo source: https://pixabay.com/it/chirurgia-ospedale-medico-3034133/, https://pxhere.com/it/photo/921869

ultimo aggiornamento: 21-02-2019

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