Are you wondering if anesthesia causes some side effects for patients with HIV? If so, you are on the right page. Medical procedures, like dental surgery, are sometimes necessary to keep up your health. However, some patients suffer from dental anesthesia side effects, including HIV-positive patients. Keep reading to know more about anesthesia and its typical side effects on people with HIV.


Dental Anesthetics

Anesthesia means a loss or lack of sensation that can be with or without consciousness. In fact, the type of anesthesia used in HIV-infected patients relies upon the kind of surgery or treatment, the severity of HIV infection, and the presence of co-morbid diseases.

In addition, anesthetics function in various ways depending on the type. They can be short-acting when used straightly to the affected part or work for longer times when more complicated surgery is necessary.

Furthermore, the success of dental anesthesia relies upon:

  • the procedure
  • the drug
  • individual factors
  • the area being anesthetized


Anesthesia Types

You may get anesthesia when you go to your dentist for dental treatment.

The three main types of anesthesia:


Local Anesthesia

A local anesthetic agent is ideal for minor procedures such as cavity filling, which requires a more limited time to complete. In this type, dental patients will be conscious and can somehow respond during the procedure. In fact, local anesthetics work to numb the area so the patients will not feel anesthesia side effects

Most of these take effect quickly and last 30 to an hour. In some cases, your dentist will add a vasopressor to the anesthetic to magnify its impact and hold the anesthetic effect from advancing to other parts of the body.

In addition, dentists usually use injections to give patients this numbing effect. However, local anesthetics are available over the counter and as a prescription in gel, cream, ointment, patch, spray, and liquid. You can click this link to know more about the different applications of local dental anesthesia.



Most dentists use sedation to relax patients who might have anxiety, assist with pain, or keep them still for the dental procedure.

The patient might be completely conscious, semiconscious, or barely conscious and able to respond. In fact, this anesthesia has a few levels, such as mild, moderate, or deep sedation.

In deep sedation, also known as monitored anesthesia care (MAC), the patient is generally not aware of their surroundings and can react to painful or repeated stimulation.

Furthermore, dental patients can get sedation orally, inhaled, intramuscularly (IM), or intravenously (IV).


General Anesthesia

Dentists use general anesthesia for longer procedures, or if the patient has severe anxiety, that may meddle with the treatment. In this anesthesia, a patient will be totally unconscious, have no pain, and relax the muscles. Also, they will not remember any of the procedures.

Moreover, the patient can get this medication through a face mask or IV. The degree of anesthesia relies upon the technique and the condition of the patient.


Potential Side Effects of Dental Anesthesia

Anesthesia in HIV-infected patients should be individualized and rely on the condition of the patient. This is necessary to avoid some adverse reactions associated with the use of anesthesia. In any case, significant side effects of dental anesthesia to HIV patients include:


Local Anesthesia

In dentistry, the side effects of local anesthesia are extremely rare. At times, numbness is felt beyond the affected area of the mouth. Also, cheek muscles and eyelids can droop until the numbness dies down. Other potential worries include:

  • minor bruising
  • a racing heartbeat
  • temporarily losing the capacity to blink
  • hematomas, blood outside a blood vessel

Additionally, some research demonstrated that local anesthesia can reduce morbidity and mortality in various patients, including pregnant women with HIV.



Sedation can provide pain relief during dental procedures. Common side effects include nausea, headache, and drowsiness. These usually do not last long. In any case, other possible impacts include:

  • Trouble urinating
  • Pain at the site of the needle
  • Hematoma
  • Nerve damage (extremely rare)

Furthermore, HIV patients usually undergo antiretroviral therapy (ART). This treatment may cause other undesirable effects when interacting with midazolam. That is why a dentist may use other alternatives during procedural sedation.


General Anesthesia

A dental healthcare professional should monitor the side effects of general anesthesia during and after treatment. Common side effects include:

  • ItchesDrug administrations
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle aches
  • Confusion when regaining consciousness
  • A sore throat
  • Chills and shivering, hypothermia

It is essential to inform the dentist if the patient has any allergic reactions to prevent severe complications. Rarely, general anesthesia can cause more severe issues like cognitive dysfunction, where memory loss is more long-term.

In any case, doctors can safely administer general anesthesia and neuraxial for HIV patients who receive regular ART medication.


Risks and Complications

Health professionals usually consider local anesthesia to be very safe, particularly in minor surgery.

However, HIV patients may still experience some pain during the drug administration and when it is wearing off. Also, the patient might see some bruising, but this effect is generally minor.

Other temporary side effects may include:

  • headaches
  • muscle twitching
  • dizziness
  • blurred vision
  • vomiting
  • continuing numbness, weakness, or tingling

Some HIV patients might have an allergic reaction and develop itching, hives, and breathing difficulties.

In rare conditions, HIV patients may encounter central nervous system (CNS) depression. This slows down the body’s neurological functions, causing a decreased heart rate and breathing rate, prompting cardiac arrest.

In addition, like any other drug, an overdose can lead to life-threatening conditions.



Dental anesthesia can help prevent pain during an operation or relieve pain after surgery. However, careful administration is essential, especially for HIV patients. So if you have upcoming dental appointments, inform your dentist about your condition to prepare your treatment and provide proper safety measures.




What to know about general anesthesia.

Monitored Anesthesia Care or Twilight Sleep Explained.