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Understanding the Risks of Anesthesia

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Updated April 09, 2014

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Why Can't I Eat or Drink Before Surgery

Aspiration happens when vomit is produced during surgery and is then inhaled into the lungs. Normally, you cough when a foreign object enters your airway, but the medications given during anesthesia can prevent coughing. Aspiration can cause lung infections, a blockage in the airway or a severe cough.

Patients are asked to refrain from eating or drinking in the 12 hours prior to surgery to prevent aspiration.

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