THU, JUL 21, 2016

Reversible Coma: Under Sedation and On YouTube

Ever since the 2009 viral video craze,  “David after the dentist”, a video of a 9-year-old boy, David, asking his parents hilarious questions while he waking up from the effects of anesthesia, which led to hundreds of post-anesthesia videos being posted across the Internet and creating a YouTube phenomenon: So much so that typing only the keyword “anesthesia” in the YouTube search bar provides you with hours of videos themed around the post-op effects that have garnered millions of views. However, after watching the videos you may be left with the question of “what exactly does anesthesia do that causes this short-term state of mind?”

Anesthesia has been referred to as a “reversible coma.” In a study, researchers compared the difference between a person sleeping and someone under anesthesia. They found that the deepest levels of sleep are similar to the effects of the lightest anesthesia.

The intravenous medications that are used for anesthesia can have many unusual effects. This is because they temporarily disrupt the normal higher-level thought functioning in the brain. As a result, more primitive brain functions can be unmasked, so it is not uncommon for people waking up from anesthesia to be anxious, combative, or to otherwise act in ways they wouldn’t normally act. It’s simply a strange-true and relatively common side effect of being sedated. In other words, don’t be too alarmed if you’re driving your child home following a procedure (post-anesthesia) and s/he claims to be a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (watch that video).

Forms of anesthesia have been used since ancient civilization, they just didn’t weren’t able to capture the post-op effects. YouTube hilarity aside, anesthesia is highly controlled and administered by professionals who are very serious about your safety and well-being. Trust that your healthcare professional knows what they’re talking about when it comes to anesthetics and listen to them when they advise you to have someone, maybe with a sense of humor,  drive you home after a procedure.  

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