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Overview on brain hypoxia

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Brain hypoxia occurs if the brain does not receive adequate oxygen. This can occur during choking, drowning, cardiac arrest or suffocation. In some cases, it can be caused by injury to the brain and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Remember that the condition can be serious since the brain cells require a steady supply of oxygen to function optimally.

What are the signs?

The signs of brain hypoxia vary from minor to severe.

The mild symptoms generally include:

  • Diminished ability to move the body
  • Brief memory loss
  • Difficulty in making decisions and paying attention.

The severe signs include:

  • Coma
    In some cases, it can be caused by injury to the brain and carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Seizure
  • Absence of breathing
  • Brain death

Management of brain hypoxia

It is important to note that brain hypoxia necessitates immediate treatment to reinstate the oxygen flow to the brain. The ideal course of treatment is based on the root cause and seriousness of the condition.

For mild cases brought about by mountain climbing, it requires the individual to descend to a lower altitude level. In severe cases, emergency treatment is needed which involves a ventilator. The heart might also require support via the administration of blood products and possibly fluids intravenously.

Medications for the blood pressure might also be given as well as those that control the heart rate. Even seizure drugs or anesthetics might be part of the treatment plan.


Brain hypoxia can be prevented by observing for some health conditions. A doctor should be seen if the individual has low blood pressure and always have an on-hand inhaler if one is asthmatic.

High altitudes must also be avoided if prone to altitude sickness. If an individual was unpredictably robbed of oxygen such as in fire incidents, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) must be carried out to prevent the condition from worsening.

Disclaimer / More Information

The information posted on this page on brain hypoxia is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn how the condition is managed, register for first aid training at one of our training centers located throughout Canada. The training centers are in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Kelowna, Saskatoon, Victoria, Surrey, Mississauga, Winnipeg, Red Deer, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.

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