Why You Need To Come Clean To Your Anesthesiologist About Cannabis Use
Think its safe to smoke before going under the knife? Think again!
We all know that cannabis is healthy and beneficial in preventing as well as treating numerous conditions, but there are the few instances when it should be avoided.
One of these is before and during surgery. If you have a surgery scheduled, you need to be upfront to your doctors and anesthesiologist about your cannabis habit. Cannabis use can cause complications in surgery, and should be avoided weeks before the procedure. Some people might think that smoking cannabis can be helpful in calming down your nerves before going under the knife, but it’s not a good idea. However, you shouldn’t be afraid to open up to your doctors if you use cannabis regularly.
Don’t Smoke Cannabis Before Going Under The Knife
In the 1980’s when cannabis use was already prevalent, this raised red flags among surgeons who feared that patients could be going under the knife after smoking getting high. A paper in the 80’s was published in the Journal of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists which said, “many anesthetists are not aware of the potential adverse effects which may occur if marijuana is taken prior to the administration of an anesthetic […] in conjunction with an anesthetic, marijuana can cause severe complications.”
Yes, you read that right. With all the positive benefits of cannabis, this is ONE serious situation wherein you shouldn’t be smoking. In most people, cannabis has the tendency to lower blood pressure and heart rate, or even cause a drop in body temperature which makes it act like a depressant. Anesthesia is also a depressant, and having these two things together in your body is a cause for alarm. It is well known that cannabis causes the blood vessels in the body to relax, also known as vasodilation. This can greatly complicate things if your blood pressure is already falling because of any issues with surgery or anesthesia and can also change the way your body will respond to the anesthesia.
In 2005, a paper published in the journal Current Opinion in Anesthesiology stated, “The combination of marijuana with other sedative hypnotic drugs may enhance depression of the central nervous system,” which causes a serious reduction in breathing. Other research papers also state that using cannabis can prolong the effects of the anesthesia which means that you’ll be hit by the drug for much longer than the anesthetist intended. In 2002, a study discussed the case of a 34-year-old cannabis user who was administered with anesthesia for a dental procedure to remove a wisdom tooth. The patient experienced laryngospasm, which is also known as a drowning reaction.
Going under the knife is scary enough as it is. Don’t make it more dangerous and increase the risk that you might stop breathing because of consuming cannabis before the procedure. Using cannabis the day before especially in the hours before your expected surgery can lead to drastic effects. Resist the temptation to smoke before surgery because you can complicate what could be an otherwise normal procedure.
What To Do
If you’re a regular user, it’s important to be honest about your cannabis habit to your anesthesiologist whether or not pot is legal in your state. Remember that your personal safety is more important. Don’t even think about calming your nerves with weed, or cigarettes which is just as bad for surgery. Opt for natural relaxation techniques like meditation, slow breathing, and listening to music.
Be as accurate as possible about how much and how often you use cannabis; if you smoke or eat it, and when the last time you used it was. Coming clean about your cannabis use probably won’t delay your surgery but it’s critical that your anesthesiologist completely understands that you may be reacting differently to the anesthesia than expected. This way he/she is also prepared for any issues that may arise especially in your airway which is a common occurrence for all kinds of smokers who undergo surgery.
Depending on the kind of surgery you had, you may find relief in using cannabis to help you heal better and faster after your surgery. If you aren’t sure and want to be on the safe side, you can speak to your doctor about it if weed is legal in your state.
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