Common side effects of anesthesia, such as nausea and vomiting, should not prolong a hospital stay, as they do not last long, and medication can treat them, reports Johns Hopkins Medicine. While experiencing after effects such as impaired judgment and coordination, patients can go home but should not attempt activities such as driving or operating machinery. Patients may rarely experience more debilitating side effects, such as lung infections, strokes, heart attacks and mental confusion, points out Mayo Clinic.
Most people have no difficulties with general anesthesia, and mild side effects create no long-term problems, explains Mayo Clinic. Complications with anesthesia are most often linked to other factors, such as obesity, smoking, alcohol abuse, medications and other medical conditions. Severe reactions to anesthesia occur most often with the elderly or people who already have serious medical problems.
The type of anesthesia that patients receive affects their condition after surgery, according to Scientific American. Local anesthesia numbs only a small part of the body. Regional anesthesia, usually injected directly into the spine, affects a larger area. Doctors sometimes administer regional anesthesia along with a sedative that dulls patients' responsiveness and awareness. In general anesthesia, patients become completely unconscious. A side effect of severe memory loss and mental confusion called postoperative delirium occurs most frequently in elderly patients who receive deep general anesthesia for major surgery.