Health Diseases


Asphyxia - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Asphyxia is a condition of severely deficient supply of oxygen to the body that arises from being unable to breathe normally. Asphyxia is caused by a severe lack of oxygen to the body. If the lack of oxygen is prolonged or if no medical action is taken to combat the deficiency, then unconsciousness and death will occur. There are many different causes of asphyxia, most of which are accidental. Asphyxia can be caused by injury to or obstruction of breathing passageways, as in strangulation or the aspiration of food (choking) or large quantities of fluid. Asphyxia causes generalized hypoxia, which primarily affects the tissues and organs most sensitive to hypoxia first, such as the brain, hence resulting in cerebral hypoxia. Asphyxia is used to maim or kill in capital punishment, suicide, torture, and warfare. It is also used non-fatally in martial arts, combat sport. Asphyxia is usually characterized by air hunger but this is not always the case; the urge to breathe is triggered by rising carbon dioxide levels in the blood rather than diminishing oxygen levels.

Asphyxia can also be the result of strangulation. This may be accidental or deliberate. Asphyxia is the eventual result of prolonged exposure to an atmosphere containing too little oxygen to sustain life; many such situations involve the displacement of oxygen-containing air with an asphyxiant gas. An asthma attack can also bring about asphyxiation. Severe asthma attacks in which the sufferer is unable to use an inhaler have been known to end in death. Asphyxia will occur very rapidly if a person constricts another person's airways by strangulation. Asphyxia has also been known to occur due to sleep apnea. Other very common deaths by asphyxia are drowning and inhalation of vomit. Inhalation of vomit has a very high incident rate among people who have alcohol or drug abuse problems. People can pass into unconsciousness and then begin to vomit. In all cases of asphyxia that do not result in death, there is a severe risk of brain damage. Asphyxia is a complex condition that can be difficult to predict or prevent. Prompt treatment is important to minimize the damaging effects of decreased oxygen to the baby.

Causes of Asphyxia

The common causes of Asphyxia:

  • Lack of oxygen to the body.
  • Choking.
  • Strangulation.
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Sleep apnea.
  • Wound infection.

Symptoms of Asphyxia

Some sign and symptoms related to asphyxia are as follows:

  • Abnormal heart rate or rhythm.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Cyanosis.
  • Gasping or weak breathing.
  • Breathing difficulty.
  • Weak muscle tone and reflexes.

Treatment of Asphyxia

  • Medications to support the baby's breathing and sustain blood pressure.
  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.
  • Giving the mother extra amounts of oxygen before delivery.








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