How do you live sober

Knowledge Why do you have to be sober before an operation?

Regardless of the type of operation, it has long been the case that something should be eaten and drunk the evening before the operation. The reason: the swallowing and coughing reflexes are switched off during general anesthesia. Thereby Under certain circumstances, stomach contents can get into the throat, be inhaled and cause (life-threatening) pneumonia there. Experience has shown, however, that these strict requirements can be relaxed without increasing the risk for the patient. Today applies: You have to go without solid food six hours before an operation. And what about drinking?

For liquids, the so-called two hours of "sobriety". This means that the patient can drink up to two hours before the procedure - provided these rules are observed:

  • Clear liquids in limited quantity. “Clear” means particle and fat-free liquids, i.e. juices without pulp, tea, coffee without milk and even cola and lemonade.
  • Individual recommendations apply to, for example Patients who are overweight, have reflux disease, are fed tube-feeding, or who may be difficult to ventilate with.
  • From the anesthetist arranged drugs may be taken with a sip of water until shortly before the procedure.
  • Children and infants may be breast-fed or given the bottle up to four hours before the anesthesia.

It has been shown that liquids have passed through the stomach under these circumstances by the time the operation is carried out and the production of gastric acid is no longer increased. The risk that the patient will inhale repelled fluids or stomach acid is correspondingly not increased. Research even suggests that hydration up to two hours before the procedure has specific advantages:

  • Immediately after the procedure, the patients felt better.
  • Fewer patients complained of dry mouth or feeling thirsty.
  • Fewer patients had postoperative headaches.

Of course, the eating and drinking rules do not apply to emergencies. They have their own laws - and anesthetists have strategies to keep the anesthetic risks as low as possible despite a full stomach.