Many people rely upon caffeine to get going in the morning or improve alertness during the day. Researchers have now found that caffeine might speed recovery from general anesthesia. Could caffeine wake you up after an operation?

How Does Caffeine Wake You Up from Anesthesia?

Sometimes surgical patients are slow to become fully conscious following an operation. This means more time in the recovery room and more nursing attention, so speeding this process can be beneficial.

Research in rats shows that injecting caffeine towards the end of the procedure can shorten recovery time by about 55 percent. The scientists determined that caffeine is working in two different ways to increase cyclic AMP in the body. This is the way in which it overcomes anesthesia-related sedation.

Fong et al, Journal of Neurophysiology, Aug., 2017 

Could speeding recovery reduce the effects of anesthesia on the brain? Scientists don’t know. Many patients would be happy to have caffeine wake them sooner after an operation, however. That would allow them to start healing and get ready to go home sooner.

No Caffeine-Withdrawal Headache?

One additional benefit: getting caffeine in the IV for recovery would also prevent the caffeine-withdrawal headache many patients experience. Going into surgery with an empty stomach means they must skip their usual morning coffee. For some people, that triggers a horrible headache while they are trying to get over their operation.

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