Anesthesia with Kids
Operations are common and you or your child may find yourself with plenty of questions about what’s going to happen, and many about anesthesia. What is anesthesia exactly? Anesthesia is medicine given during surgery that prevents patients from feeling any pain and can also help you stay asleep during a surgery or procedure. This concept can be very scary to some, but with the right approach everyone can be informed and ready for what is to come!
Kids of different ages and developmental levels may have different fears when it comes to anesthesia. For younger children, there may be more fear when it comes to being separated from their parents. Older kids may have more complex fears such as exposure, scarring on the body, waking up during surgery, or not being in full control of their body. One of the biggest fears that may be common among kids are needles and if they will hurt. When it comes to anesthetics, a local kind can be placed on the skin to numb the area so there is no pain!
When it comes to talking about anesthesia, it can be helpful to have a conversation ahead of time to address any stress or uncertainty. One important talking point is to let the child know that you will be there during the whole experience. Reassurance while in the waiting room and in the pre-op room can help ease the feeling of being alone during a scary experience. Another important thing to consider is giving age-appropriate and developmental-appropriate information about what is going to happen. Depending on the age of the child, some details such as big words (e.g., anesthesiologist, anesthesia, operating room, consciousness) can be simplified for a better understanding without introducing frightening language.
The most important aspect of a conversation about something like anesthesia is to stay calm and be encouraging. Nonverbal cues communicate assurance, such as tone of voice, facial expressions, gestures, and body language. The way that these cues are conveyed can send a powerful message to already nervous children. A calm, supportive, and soothing presence before a surgery or procedure can be a game changer with the whole experience, for both you and the child.
If you have any specific questions about anesthesia or procedures, please consult with a doctor for more information.