Anoxic Brain Damage
(Anoxic Brain Injury; Hypoxic Brain Injury)
Anoxic brain damage (ABD) is harm to the brain due to a lack of oxygen. Brain cells that do not have enough oxygen will start to die after about 4 minutes.
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Oxygen is carried to the brain in the blood. ABD is when:
- Blood flow is blocked or slowed due to:
- Blood flow is normal, but the blood does not have enough oxygen due to:
- Lung disease
- A lack of oxygen in the air—this may happen at high altitudes
- Being around certain poisons, such as carbon monoxide
- An event that is stopping breathing, such as drowning, choking, or suffocation
Problems that may raise the risk of ABD are:
Problems may be:
- Problems with thinking and focus
- Mood swings
- Loss of consciousness
- A decline in brain function days or weeks after the event (this is rare)
The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. A doctor who treats brain problems may need to be seen.
These tests may be done to find out more about problems with how the brain is working:
ABD is often caused by accidents. These cannot always be prevented.
Treatment will depend on the cause. Choices are:
- Oxygen to raise the amount of oxygen in the blood
- Medicine to help get enough blood with oxygen to the brain
- Cooling the brain to limit problems
- Cerebral hypoxia. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/health-information/disorders/cerebral-hypoxia.
- Hypoxic-ischemic brain injury in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/hypoxic-ischemic-brain-injury-in-adults.
- Rubinos, C. and Ruland, S. Neurologic complications in the intensive care unit. Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep, 2016; 16 (6): 57.
- Rimas Lukas, MD
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