Hypoxic Brain Injury: All You Need To Know

A form of brain damage that many people are unaware of, hypoxic brain injury can be extremely harmful. Its causes, symptoms and treatments remain to be unknown to the majority of the populace however. It is therefore essential for educating to be done on the matter for our better wellbeing. Here then, is everything you need to know about hypoxic brain injury; from its definition, to its causes, to its effects and treatments.

What is Hypoxic Brain Injury?

It may sound unusual, but our brains rely on a continuous supply of oxygen to survive, and even uses up to twenty per cent of the body’s oxygen to ensure it gets all it needs. Its need for oxygen is due to the fact that the brain’s major energy source, glucose, is made up of the ever important gas.

Therefore, if the supply of oxygen to the brain is interrupted, disturbed, stopped, halted or significantly reduced, the functioning of the brain is very quickly adversely effected. After around five minutes without oxygen brain damage will start to occur and consciousness will be lost some 10 minutes after.

While the complete stoppage of oxygen to the brain is referred to as cerebral anoxia, a lack of oxygen supply to the brain is known as hypoxia.

Causes of Hypoxic Brain Injury

As we’ve established that hypoxic brain injury is a lack of oxygen supply to the brain, the next question one may ask is what results in the brain not being fed with its regular oxygen supply?

There are a number of internal events which prevent the flow of sufficient oxygen rich blood from reaching the brain, like cardiac arrests and strokes. Chest trauma, being near to drowning, severe bronchial asthma and electrocution are other causes.

Major bleeding is also another cause, as through major bleeding you lose a lot of oxygen rich blood which could have otherwise been put to good use by the brain. In general the causes are many, and also include drug use, poisoning, and smoke and carbon monoxide inhalation.


The treatments of hypoxic brain injury depend on the causes. The first step a doctor takes is usually to treat the cause of the hypoxic brain injury. For example, if it’s due to a cardiac arrest, then the patient’s heart problems are seen to and treated, or if it’s due to chest trauma then the patient’s chest trauma is treated first. Such treatments will thus in effect be attempts to prevent further brain damage.

Once the cause is treated and somewhat healed, the rehabilitation process will occur, during which the patient will work closely with a team of medical specialists working to rejuvenate the patient’s health. This will include different types of therapy, such as that of speech, physical and occupational, in order for the brain to relearn its functioning techniques.

Peter Richards is a British freelance writer and health specialist

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