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Premedication is medication which is administered in advance of anesthesia or a medical procedure. This medication is typically prescribed by the doctor performing a procedure or by an anesthesiologist who wants the patient to remain as comfortable as possible during the procedure. A number of medications are used in premedication, ranging from sedatives to help patients relax before anesthesia is induced to antibiotics administered to reduce the risk of developing an infection.
Premedications often include drugs which are designed to relax the patient. These drugs can facilitate induction of anesthesia by making the patient more comfortable, and they can reduce stress for patients undergoing procedures under light sedation. The premedication is delivered far enough in advance that it has taken effect by the time the patient needs to be put under anesthesia, or by the time the procedure begins. These drugs can also include medications to manage pain, and muscle relaxers so that the patient will not move during induction of anesthesia or the progress of a procedure.
A doctor may also prescribe premedication before chemotherapy, to reduce the risk of adverse reactions in the patient. Chemotherapy drugs are highly toxic, and sometimes patients develop severe reactions or allergies. These reactions can be limited with the use of premedication, and the drugs may also keep the patient more comfortable during a chemotherapy session. Other medications may be recommended for patients with specific conditions or who are about to undergo particular drug regimens to make patients comfortable and to reduce the risk of adverse reactions.
Dental premedication was recommended for many years to prevent endocarditis, a very serious inflammation of the heart which can be caused by infection. The risk of developing endocarditis was closely associated with some dental procedures, making it a concern for heart patients and people with compromised immune systems. In 2007, the guidelines for premedication in dental procedures were adjusted, with professional organizations recommending lower dosages and prophylactic medication for fewer patients to reflect new knowledge about the risks and benefits of dental premedication.
When premedication is recommended for a patient, the patient should discuss the medications being used and why they are being used. Understanding what will happen during medical treatment can reduce stress for patients and help them feel more involved in their medical care. Discussions about medications can also offer an opportunity for patients to disclose allergies to particular classes of drugs, and an opportunity to discuss alternatives for patients with allergies.