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What breathing problems from anesthesia can I have after surgery?

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Anesthesia hampers your normal breathing and stifles your urge to cough. After chest or abdominal surgery, it could hurt to breathe in deeply or push air out. Mucus may build up in your lungs.

You may not have any symptoms. But if a large part of your lung collapses or stops inflating, it can cause:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid breathing and heart rate
  • Blue lips or skin

SOURCES:

MedlinePlus: "After Surgery."

Cleveland Clinic: "What You Need to Know About Pain Control After Surgery."

American Society of Anesthesiologists: "Effects of Anesthesia."

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: "What Is Atelectasis?" "What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Atelectasis?" "How Is Atelectasis Treated?"

CDC: "FAQs About Surgical Site Infections."

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Surgical Site Infections."

Torpy, J.M. Journal of the American Medical Association, published online June 23, 2010.

Darrah, D.M. Anesthesiology Clinics, published online September 27, 2009.

OrthoInfo: "Deep Vein Thrombosis," "Preventing Blood Clots After Orthopaedic Surgery."

Merck Manual: "Surgery."

Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on June 14, 2020

SOURCES:

MedlinePlus: "After Surgery."

Cleveland Clinic: "What You Need to Know About Pain Control After Surgery."

American Society of Anesthesiologists: "Effects of Anesthesia."

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: "What Is Atelectasis?" "What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Atelectasis?" "How Is Atelectasis Treated?"

CDC: "FAQs About Surgical Site Infections."

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Surgical Site Infections."

Torpy, J.M. Journal of the American Medical Association, published online June 23, 2010.

Darrah, D.M. Anesthesiology Clinics, published online September 27, 2009.

OrthoInfo: "Deep Vein Thrombosis," "Preventing Blood Clots After Orthopaedic Surgery."

Merck Manual: "Surgery."

Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on June 14, 2020

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