Anaesthesia means "loss of sensation". Medications that cause anaesthesia are called anaesthetics.

Anaesthetics are used during tests and surgical operations to numb sensation in certain areas of the body or induce sleep.

This prevents pain and discomfort, and enables a wide range of medical procedures to be carried out.

Local anaesthetics and general anaesthetics are two commonly used types of anaesthetics.

A Local anaesthetic is often used during minor procedures where a small area of the body is numbed and you remain fully conscious. A general anaesthetic is often used for more serious operations where you're totally unconscious and unaware of the procedure.

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Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 30 Nov 2016