Frequently Asked Questions
Are there Problems with Anaesthetics?
Anaesthetics and Surgery
All anaesthetic agents are drugs with powerful effects on the central nervous system. Any after-effects may be more severe for an M.E. sufferer. I know of two cases where the effect of a muscle paralysing drug (routinely used in anaesthesia after you have gone to sleep, to allow a tube to be safely passed down the airway) has taken an abnormally long time to wear off after the operation.
Since in M.E. there appears to be some disturbance off the neuro-transmitters between nerve cells, and also some disturbance of muscle function, it is not surprising that a routine anaesthetic may cause problems. Obviously there are occasion when surgery is essential; you would not wish to delay operating on acute appendicitis or a broken leg.
If surgery is really needed, it is important that you tell the anaesthetist you have M.E., and describe any problems you may have with muscles, walking, co-ordination, and brain symptoms. Then he or she can make adjustments and use the most appropriate drugs, in lower doses if necessary.
Of course, any operation is stressful and may bring on some kind of relapse. If it is unavoidable, then try to make provision for extra care and rest in the convalescent period, and take extra vitamin C, zinc, vitamin A and all B vitamins for a few weeks after surgery. Allow yourself plenty of time to recover. Non-essential surgical procedures should be postponed until the M.E. is better, or is stable, which may be well before your turn comes on the waiting list! Remember that hundreds of people with M.E. do have operations safely each year.
Many M.E. sufferers report increased sensitivity to local anaesthetic. It may be a reaction to the adrenaline which is often combined with the anaesthetic, and it is wise to ask the surgeon to use a local that does not contain added adrenaline. Several instances have been recorded of M.E. people collapsing or losing consciousness after local anaesthesia for dental procedures. On the other hand, many muscle biopsies have been performed on M.E. patients, with no ill effect from the local anaesthetic. So the reactions experienced in the dentist’s chair may be partly due to stress caused by ‘dentist phobia’, or to the dose used, or to the site of injection being closer to the brain.
Whatever the reasons, non-urgent dental treatment, apart from scaling and cleaning, is probably not a good idea while you are unwell with M.E. Candida often lurks in the mouth and in gum crevices, so good preventative mouth and gum hygiene is extremely important. You may find that your gums’ health improves after improving your diet and increasing your vitamin C intake. But tooth abscess or any chronic mouth sepsis must be treated, with penicillin and dental surgery if needed, as any septic focus in the body damages health and will worsen M.E.