Our Health Library information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Please be advised that this information is made available to assist our patients to learn more about their health. Our providers may not see and/or treat all topics found herein.

Anesthetic

An anesthetic is a medicine that helps block pain. It may be used with medicine that will help a person relax, become sleepy or forgetful, and/or become unconscious for surgery.

Anesthesia specialists use these medicines and close monitoring to help keep people safe and comfortable during surgery and other medical procedures.

There are three main types:

  • Local anesthetics numb a small part of the body, such as the nose or mouth. They are given as a shot. Or they are applied topically.
  • Regional anesthetics numb a larger part of the body. They are given as a shot around major nerves or the spinal cord.
  • General anesthetics make a person unconscious. They are given as a gas or as a shot directly into the bloodstream (IV, through a vein).

Some topical anesthetics are over-the-counter medicines. These medicines can be used as home treatment for minor injuries.

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