General anesthesia works by depressing the autonomic nervous system to such a state that protective reflexes that would normally come into play during a surgery are prevented from occurring. Essentially, with this type of deep sedation, an individual is placed into a medically induced coma.
General anesthesia has many purposes including:
- Analgesia — loss of response to pain;
- Amnesia — loss of memory;
- Immobility — loss of motor reflexes;
- Unconsciousness — loss of consciousness;
- Skeletal muscle relaxation.
A variety of drugs can be used to induce this level of unconsciousness, and because it renders an individual medically comatose, breathing assistance via tubing, or a mask is necessary. Occasionally, an anesthetist may pre-medicate a person to allow the anesthetic to function more efficiently, or to aid in the patient's overall comfort going into, or coming out of anesthesia. Such pre-medications may include Clonidine and Melatonin.
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