Sedation: Care Instructions

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Sedation is the use of medicine to help you feel relaxed and comfortable during a procedure. The medicine is usually given in a vein (by I.V.). It may be used with numbing medicines.

There are different levels of sedation. They range from being awake but relaxed to being completely unconscious. Which level you have will depend on the procedure and your needs. You will be watched closely by a doctor or nurse during sedation.

Common side effects from sedation include:

  • Feeling sleepy or tired. (Your doctors and nurses will make sure you aren't too sleepy to go home.)
  • Feeling dizzy or unsteady.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?


  • Don't do anything that requires attention to detail until you recover. This includes going to work or school, making important decisions, and signing any legal documents. It takes time for the medicine effects to completely wear off.
  • For at least 24 hours, do not drive or operate any machinery.
  • When you get home, make sure to rest until the anesthesia has worn off. Some people will feel drowsy or dizzy for up to a few hours after leaving the hospital.
  • Take your time and walk slowly. Sudden changes in position may cause nausea.
  • Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
  • If you have sleep apnea and you have a CPAP machine, be sure to use it.


  • Don't drink alcohol for 24 hours.
  • You can eat your normal diet, unless your doctor gives you other instructions. If your stomach is upset, try clear liquids and bland, low-fat foods like plain toast or rice.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (unless your doctor tells you not to).

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have trouble breathing.
  • You passed out (lost consciousness).

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have nausea or vomiting that gets worse or won't stop.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have a new or worse headache.
  • The medicine is not wearing off and you can't think clearly.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.