Premedication (a premed) is the name for medications which are sometimes given before an anaesthetic. The main role of a premed is to help reduce your child’s anxiety or improve safety. Not every child needs a premed. Depending on the type of surgery and your child’s health, you and your anaesthetist will often be able to decide whether your child needs a premed or not. If your child does need a premed, this will usually be given as a liquid. Very occasionally an injection is required. Premeds are usually given about an hour before the anaesthetic. They may make your child drowsy before the operation and this may continue after the operation.

A premed is most useful in children who are afraid, anxious or uncooperative, and those who have had unpleasant medical experiences or repeated stays in hospital.

Occasionally, a premed can have the opposite effect and make a child more active and agitated.

In addition, other medications may be given before surgery. For example:

  • Pain relieving drugs such as paracetamol that can help at the end of the procedure
  • Medicines to protect your child from side effects of the anaesthetic (for example, nausea)
  • An extra dose of treatment for illnesses like asthma.