Anesthesia vs Tranquilizers

Anesthesia vs Tranquilizers

Many people confuse Anesthesia and Tranquilizers so I thought I would research the topic and I learned a few things. Most of my information is from an anesthesiologist and a veterinary assistant. 
Anesthesia

  • Anesthesia is a state of mindlessness (apathy, loss of sensation, medically induced insensitivity to pain)
  • Anesthesia is much more complex than just “putting out cold”
  • There are 3 fundamental components of a general anesthetic
    • sleep,
    • relief of pain
    • muscle relaxation
  • It is the skill of the Anesthesiologist to match the amount of each component to the particular needs of each patient and each operation
  • The mechanism of action of the anesthetics is one of those ongoing questions, but the most popular theory is that they cause a degree of swelling of the brain cell wall, which obstructs the normal passage of electrolytes in and out of the cell, thereby preventing nerve impulses from being generated
  • An example of a commonly used Anesthesia for humans is Ketamine, Tiletamine, and Propofol
    • Ketamine has also been found to bind to opioid receptors type 2– however, without agonist activity
    • Ketamine interacts with muscarinic receptors, descending monoaminergic pain pathways and voltage-gated calcium channels
    • Ketamine induces a state referred to as “dissociative anesthesia”
    • Ketamine is primarily used for the induction and maintenance of general anesthesia, usually in combination with a sedative.
    • It has been shown to be effective in treating depression in patients with bipolar disorder who have not responded to anti-depressants
      • In persons with major depressive disorder, it produces a rapid antidepressant effect, acting within two hours as opposed to the several weeks taken by typical antidepressants to work
    • It is also a popular anesthetic in veterinary medicine

Tranquilizer/sedatives

  • Tranquility is a state of serenity (calm, stillness, silence)
  • Tranquilizers/sedatives are drugs that may be used in achieving either state, by varying the dose
  • The sedatives can be used for the sleepy bit, but there are several other drugs, including the inhaled anesthetics, which do the same job
  • The sedatives, though being said to make patients relax, do not do the job of a proper muscle relaxant, nor do they do anything to relieve pain
  • Typically drugs are often called sedative/hypnotics due to their ability to cause sedation and induce sleep
  • The primary tranquilizer/sedative in use are benzodiazepines like Valium (Diazepam), Xanax (Alprazolam), Ativan (Lorazepam), Rivotril/Klonopin (Clonazepam), Restoril (Temazepam), Versed/Hypnovel (Midazolam). These drugs are often given for anxiety and/or insomnia
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