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Anoxia Symptoms, Types And Treatment, Traumatic Brain Injury


Anoxia is an extreme form of hypoxia. Hypoxia occurs when one part of a person’s body, such as the brain, can only obtain a reduced amount of oxygen. Anoxia occurs when the body does not get any oxygen. This may result in a hypoxic-anoxic injury.

A lack of oxygen can cause severe damage or even death, so anyone who suspects they may have hypoxia should seek medical attention immediately.


About Anoxia

The term anoxia means a depletion in the level of oxygen, an extreme form of hypoxia or “low oxygen”. The terms anoxia and hypoxia are used in various contexts

Anoxic Waters: Sea Water, Freshwater or groundwater that is depleted of dissolved oxygen

Anoxic Event: When the Earth’s oceans become completely depleted of oxygen below the surface levels

Cerebral Anoxia: When the brain is completely deprived of oxygen, an extreme form of Cerebral Hypoxia


Oxygen is vital for the normal functioning of the brain, as the following figures illustrate:

“The brain represents 2% of our total body weight, but it consumes 20% of all the oxygen in our body.”

This fact is especially relevant given the following:

“The brain has a limited capacity to store nutrients, which is why it demands a constant high level of oxygen supply.”

It only takes around 4 minutes without oxygen for the brain to become permanently damaged. A lack of oxygen in the brain causes brain cells to die and can increase the likelihood of brain damage or death.

This is why brain tissue is widely accepted as being capable of surviving for up to four or five minutes of sustained anoxia. Once this time has elapsed, the anoxia will begin to cause damage to the brain tissue, and this damage will become more and more severe the longer the anoxia lasts. After 15 minutes of oxygen deprivation, more than 95% of the brain tissue will have been damaged.

Anoxia ‘ANÓXICA’

Caused by an insufficient supply of oxygen in the environment. A famous example of this etiology is altitude sickness, which typically occurs during holidays to locations where high altitude means that the quantity or concentration of oxygen in the environment is low. Other causes include strangulation or near strangulation whether due to immersion or choking, attempted strangulation by an assailant, obstructions in the respiratory tract, or severe asthma (anaphylaxis).


Anoxia ‘ANAEMIC’

Caused by an insufficient oxygen supply to the brain because of a drop or irregularity in the oxygen­binding capacity of the haemoglobin.

ISCHEMIC Anoxia/Hypoxia

Caused by an insufficient supply of oxygen to the brain due to a drop in cerebral blood flow or arterial pressure. This mechanism is the most common cause of anoxic encephalopathy, and it includes strokes, brain Haemorrhages, prolonged severe hypotension, and cardiac arrests.


There are a variety of situations that could lead to anoxia, including:

Cardiac or respiratory arrest

Choking, suffocation, or strangulation

a Drug overdose


Carbon Monoxide or Smoke inhalation

blood loss causing the blood pressure to drop

irregular heartbeat or damaged Heart Muscles being unable to pump enough blood and oxygen to the brain

other Cardiovascular events, including Heart Attack, stroke, or heart failure

an acute Asthma attack

a severe electric shock

exposure to certain toxic chemicals and poisoning

High Altitudes where oxygen levels are low


A reaction to general Anesthesia

Inadequate Oxygen supply or Cardiac Arrest while under general Anesthesia


Low Hemoglobin Levels in the blood

Sickle Cell Anemia or Thalassemia

Treatment of Anoxia

Treatment for complications of anoxia may include:

physical therapy to help a person regain control over their motor functions

speech therapy to help a person recover the ability to speak or swallow

counseling or psychotherapy to help adjust to any life changes

occupational therapy to help a person adapt to new routines

recreational therapy can help a person stay involved in the community and continue to learn new things

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