How you prepare

By Mayo Clinic Staff

General anesthesia relaxes the muscles in your digestive tract and airway that keeps food and acid in your stomach and out of your lungs. That's why it's important to follow your doctor's instructions about when to stop eating and drinking prior to surgery. In most cases, you should start fasting about six hours before your procedure. You may be able to drink fluids, such as coffee, until a few hours before your surgery.

Your doctor may tell you to take certain medications with a small sip of water during your fasting time. Discuss your medications with your doctor.

You may need to avoid some medications, such as aspirin and some other over-the-counter blood thinners, for at least a week before your procedure, as these can cause surgical complications.

Some vitamins and herbal remedies, such as ginseng, garlic, Ginkgo biloba, fish oil or others, may also keep your blood from clotting normally, interact with other medications or cause other complications. Discuss the types of dietary supplements you take with your doctor before your surgery.

If you have diabetes, talk with your doctor about altering your diabetes medication during the fasting period. Usually you won't take oral diabetes medication the morning of your surgery, and if you take insulin your doctor may recommend a reduced dose.

If you have sleep apnea, discuss your condition with your doctor. The anesthesiologist or anesthetist will need to carefully watch and manage your breathing during and after your surgery.

Jan. 19, 2013