Your child and anaesthetics

By Drum Digital
05 August 2014

Doctors and hospitals are scary enough for children, without the mention of anaesthetics and operations. It’s normal to feel nervous when your child needs an anaesthetic and an operation. Here’s information to help put your mind at ease.

Who administers anaesthetics?

An anaesthetist is a medical doctor with at least 13 years’ training, who has specialised in anaesthesia. An anaesthetic is administered to ensure a patient’s comfort during surgery and to keep the operation pain-free.

Types of anaesthetic

  • A regional anaesthetic is applied when a large part of the body must be anaesthetised such as the torso, for example.
  • A local anaesthetic is applied when only the affected area of the body must be anaesthetised, such as a hand that must be operated on.
  • A general anaesthetic is applied when the patient must lose consciousness completely for the operation.

What type of anaesthetic will my child receive?

The type of anaesthetic differs from person to person, depending on certain factors, such as the type of surgery planned, the patient’s general health and personal preference.

Your doctor and the anaesthetist will discuss the options with you and recommend what type of anaesthetic and how much of it would be the best option for your child.

It’s important to know the doctor won’t administer anything unless you’ve been informed about the anaesthetic and have given your permission for it to be used.

When should a child not receive an anaesthetic?

Your child’s suitability for an anaesthetic depends on a number of factors, so it’s important to discuss their medical history thoroughly with your doctor.

Tell your doctor about:

  • Allergies
  • Previous operations
  • Current illnesses
  • Medication your child is taking
  • Any dental issues

What are the drawbacks/possible consequences?

An anaesthetic can have consequences, such as a burning pain where it’s administered via needle, nausea and vomiting and a headache or dizziness.

These reactions don’t last long and are no reason for concern.

Other complications include allergic reactions and in rare cases, death. Although it’s rare for a patient to die as a result of an anaesthetic it does happen – mostly because the heart and brain don’t receive enough oxygen.

If you take your child to a registered medical practitioner there’s little chance of an anaesthetic leading to complications.

How to make it easier for your child

  1. If your child is afraid before the procedure, ask the anaesthetist to explain it to them in simple terms. They’ll be more at ease if they know what will happen to them.
  2. If your child has had operations before, you can try to get the same anaesthetist as before. Your child will trust someone they know, and feel more assured.
  3. If your child is afraid of needles ask the doctor to apply an anaesthetic ointment to the injection site. It will make the skin less sensitive to pain.

-Mieke Vlok

Sources: napmed.co.za, atlanticanaesthetics.co.za, mm3admin.co.za, kidshealth.org, www.e-doc.co.za, rcoa.ac.uk

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