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Children's Health

Effects of anesthesia on a 2 year old?

10/21/2009

Question:

My 2yr old had his tonsil out 5 days ago. He does good during the day, but at night he doesn`t want to go to bed and when we do get him asleep, he wakes up every hour to two hours in a panic. He wants up out of bed right then, if we try to snuggle or hold him, he goes into some kind of fit. He has never been like that before. Could this an effect of the anesthesia? Or has he just been totally tramatized? The first few nights I thought it was just were his throat was hurting, but now I`m starting to scared. Can you help explain this behavior?

Answer:

He is 2 and unable to fully understand what happened to him, and is somewhat upset by it.  As he returns to feeling safe when he sleeps, this will pass and he should do well.  You are right to be concerned, but please understand that from his perspective, he did not know that his tonsils needed to be removed (or that he had tonsils), why he was in the hospital, why he went to sleep and woke up with a sore throat and now is trying to figure out why that happened and what might happen the next time.  With reassurance from his parents, he will slowly return to his normal self.

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Response by:

Michael Spigarelli, MD, PhD
Formerly, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Internal Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati