Anoxic brain injury occurs when one’s brain is deprived of oxygen. According to Shepherd Center anoxic brain injuries “are caused by a complete lack of oxygen being provided to the brain, which results in the death of brain cells after approximately four minutes of oxygen deprivation.” When neural cells are left without oxygen for too long they begin to die through a process called apoptosis. Apoptosis is defined by Oxford Languages as “the death of cells which occurs as a normal and controlled part of an organism’s growth or development.” Although apoptosis is a natural part of human development, when a large number of brain cells die simultaneously due to a lack of oxygen, it can leave an individual with diminished brain function.
While anything that deprives the brain of oxygen could lead to an anoxic brain injury, there are some risk factors that may contribute to the development of an anoxic brain injury. These include the following examples, as provided by Winchester Hospital:
- Electrical shock
- Sudden cardiac arrest or heart attack
- Heart arrhythmia
- Drug use
- Broken gas appliances that discharge carbon monoxide
- Low blood pressure
An anoxic brain injury can range from mild to severe. It can be an extremely serious condition that could lead to severe long-term physiological complications, coma, or even death.
Signs and Symptoms
Every human is different and the duration of time one’s cells are able to survive without oxygen is somewhat variable. As previously indicated, the average duration of time a brain can survive without oxygen is approximately four minutes. There are countless symptoms that could manifest as a result of an anoxic brain injury. As such, one individual’s symptom profile could be completely different from another’s. Some of the more common signs and symptom associated with an anoxic brain injury could include any combination of the following examples, as provided by Medical News Today:
- Memory loss
- Inability to concentrate
- Intense headaches
- Mood swings
- Difficulty speaking
- Feeling disoriented
- Loss of consciousness
The exact combination of signs and severity of symptoms that present in an individual with an anoxic brain injury will largely depend on the area of the brain affected.
For Information and Support
If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one in regards to substance abuse and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.
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