Common Causes of Oxygen Depletion in Your Brain

You’ve been worrying about your son’s swim class field trip all week. You made him promise that he’d be safe and listen to the instructors—since you know he isn’t the strongest swimmer. Even though you were still a little nervous, you swallowed your concern, dropped him off at the pool, and said your goodbyes.

To keep your mind off of the thousands of things that could happen, you decided to take a quick trip to the grocery store. After about an hour, you finally made it home to wait for your son’s call to pick him up. You took your cell phone out of your pocket and saw that you had a missed call from a strange number. You listened to the voicemail—it was your son’s swim teacher, telling you that there had been an accident.

You immediately rushed to the hospital, hoping and praying that everything was okay. When you got there, your son’s doctor told you that he was alive, but still unconscious. He said that your son would have to be monitored overnight since he believes that during the drowning episode, he may have suffered several minutes of brain damaging hypoxia. However, they won’t know the extent until he wakes up.

What does that even mean? Will he be okay? How could something like this have happened?  

How the Brain Becomes Hypoxic

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that nearly 2.5 million people throughout the U.S. suffer some sort of traumatic brain injury every year. Unfortunately, a significant amount of these injuries lead to brain hypoxia. Brain hypoxia, as defined by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes, is a condition in which the oxygen supply to the brain is decreased or stopped, even though there is adequate blood supply. When this occurs, brain cells and tissues can quickly suffocate and die—causing permanent brain damage.

Regrettably, the number of hypoxic injuries has gradually increased over the past decade.  According to the CDC, this increase can be associated with the variety of medical conditions and events that can lead to oxygen depletion. These risks include:

  • Asthma – The inability of your lungs to absorb oxygen, limiting your brain’s supply.
  • Hypotension (extremely low blood pressure) – Although your brain is receiving blood, it isn’t receiving enough of it quickly enough to support the amount of oxygen it needs.
  • Anesthesia complications during surgery – When your breathing becomes labored, you don’t breathe in enough oxygen to sustain your brain.
  • Choking or strangulation – When your lungs are deprived of oxygen, so is your brain.
  • Carbon monoxide or smoke inhalation – Damage to your lungs will prevent necessary oxygen flow throughout your body, including your brain.
  • Drowning – When oxygen in your lungs is replaced by water—even for a few seconds—it interrupts oxygen flow to the brain, and can cause serious cerebral side effects.
  • Traveling to high altitudes (above 8,000 feet) – Oxygen levels naturally decrease in the atmosphere the higher you travel, this change can make it difficult to breathe properly, limiting your brain’s oxygen absorption.

Strokes, cardiac arrests, and irregular heartbeats can prevent nutrients, as well as necessary oxygen, from traveling to the brain, causing rapid degeneration of brain cells and tissues.

Getting the Help You Need to Breathe Easy

No matter what the cause of your, or your loved one’s hypoxic episode, if someone else’s negligence, foul play, or carelessness attributed to incident, you have a right to compensation. Brain injuries are not only traumatic, but they can have life-long consequences, expenses, and frustrations. Don’t allow someone else’s mistake to ruin your family’s future. Call us today for a free consultation and review of your case. We can help ease the weight of uncertainty, so you can breathe a little easier.

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