“Although only two percent of our body weight, the brain consumes 20% of the body’s oxygen supply” (synapse.org.au)
That alone tells us that even a brief period of oxygen deprivation puts most people at risk for brain damage or brain trauma. There are two terms that are used to describe oxygen deprivation and its impact on the brain – anoxia and hypoxia.
- Anoxia is the worst and is a complete lack of oxygen to the brain.
- Hypoxia is a reduced supply of oxygen making its way into the brain.
In both cases, blood may be making its way into the brain, but without enough oxygen in that blood, there will eventually be damages. Anoxia and hypoxia symptoms are often indicative of the level of damage done, and the conditions can be brought about in many different ways.
The Causes Behind Anoxia and Hypoxia Symptoms
Drowning or near drowning, heart attack, stroke, overdose, asthma attacks, strangulation, poisoning, errors in anesthesia administration, and inhalation of smoke or carbon monoxide are some of the most common causes for anoxia and hypoxia symptoms. Traumatic brain injuries may also lead to swelling that creates the symptoms too. There are formal types of both conditions.
- Anemic anoxia – This occurs when total hemoglobin levels provide an inadequate amount of oxygen to the brain.
- Anoxic anoxia – This can occur with altitude sickness, suffocation, or attempting to breathe in non-ventilated areas.
- Toxic anoxia – Additionally described as hostotoxic anoxia, it is when toxic substances are inhaled and interfere with the body’s ability to use oxygen (it can be caused by drug overdose, excessive alcohol consumption, inhalation of anesthesia, formaldehyde, acetone or other compounds).
- Ischemic Hypoxia – When cerebral blood flow is reduced or blood pressure decreases too much, the brain is unable to receive adequate oxygen.
What Are Anoxia and Hypoxia Symptoms?
The brain begins to die very quickly when it is deprived of adequate oxygen. In less than a few minutes’ time, enough brain cells can die to create lasting damage, or even life threatening conditions. In adults, the initial signs tend to be an inability to focus or use coordination in movement. There is often dizziness and headache, and profuse sweating is recognized as a symptom in many cases. Vision is also often impaired, and some patients say they experienced a sense of euphoria.
As the issue continues, though, many people take on a bluish hue around the mouth and fingertips, and seizures are not uncommon. This is all going to occur shortly before loss of consciousness.
The symptoms are often described as “localized” to the area affected by lack of oxygen. Obviously, the most immediate anoxia and hypoxia symptoms would be loss of consciousness or even coma.
Interestingly enough, the localization of symptoms occurs in the brain as well. As Headway.org.uk says “Although anoxia may produce damage to cells throughout the brain, some areas are more vulnerable than others. The cerebral cortex (especially the parietal lobes and occipital lobes), the hippocampus (important in memory), the basal ganglia and the cerebellum (both contributing to the control of movement) are particularly sensitive to anoxia.” Additionally, severe cases result in problems with the pituitary and the hypothalamus glands as well.
What this tells us is that patients who suffer from anoxia or hypoxia may display a long list of results due to the inadequate blood supply to the brain, but the actual anoxia and hypoxia symptoms are those displayed in the moments leading up to loss of consciousness.
A common birth injury and often due to an accident in medical care in adults, it is important to understand what led to these serious issues and pursue appropriate medical treatment or even legal recourse.