Hypoxia and anoxia are two serious neurological conditions that can result from traumatic brain injury, birth injury, exposure to toxins, surgical error, anesthesia error, and carbon monoxide poisoning. If you or a loved one has suffered hypoxia or anoxia as the result of medical malpractice or another party’s negligence or wrongdoing, you may have the legal right to seek compensation for your losses and suffering. Please contact the qualified and experienced hypoxia attorneys at The Oshman Firm today to learn more about your legal rights and options.

Definition of Hypoxia and Anoxia

Hypoxia (also called cerebral hypoxia) is a condition in which the brain receives a reduced amount of oxygen, though it maintains an adequate supply of blood. Anoxia describes a condition whereby the brain is completely deprived of oxygen. While these two conditions are related, the terms are often used interchangeably. An additional related condition, called anoxemia, is a condition in which the circulating blood delivers an insufficient amount of oxygen.

Types of Hypoxia and Anoxia

There are five different types of hypoxia and anoxia, which vary by causes and consequences.

  • Hypoxemic anoxia: This happens when the oxygen pressure outside the body is so low that the hemoglobin in the blood is unable to deliver a sufficient amount of oxygen to the tissues. This can occur in people at high altitudes.
  • Affinity anoxia: This type of anoxia is the product of a defect in blood chemistry.
  • Stagnant anoxia: This occurs when blood flow is disturbed, as with heart disease, venous disorders, certain other diseases, exposure to extreme cold, and exposure to certain toxins.
  • Anemic anoxia: This type of anoxia is the result of a decreased amount of hemoglobin in the blood, which can be caused by iron deficiency, autoimmune disease, and blood loss (hemorrhaging) that can occur with traumatic injury.
  • Histotoxic anoxia: This type involves the tissue’s inability to accept and use the supplied oxygen. This can occur because of poisoning and exposure to toxic substances including alcohol, narcotics, acetone, cyanide, toluene, carbon monoxide, and certain anesthetics. Surgical error can result in histotoxic anoxia.

Causes of Hypoxia and Anoxia

There are numerous factors that can cause hypoxia and anoxia. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Drug overdose or adverse drug reaction
  • Drowning or strangulation
  • Smoke inhalation resulting in asphyxia
  • Birth injury
  • Surgical error
  • Anesthesia error
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Traumatic brain injury

Symptoms of Hypoxia and Anoxia

Symptoms of Hypoxia and anoxia depend on the severity and duration of oxygen deprivation in the brain. Mild cerebral hypoxia can produce the following symptoms

  • Inattentiveness
  • Poor or reduced judgment
  • Uncoordinated movement and troubles balancing
  • Inappropriate sense of euphoria
  • Increased rate of breath
  • Lightheadedness
  • Bluish colored tint to the skin
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Reduced vision
  • Sweating
  • Tingling or warm sensation
  • Sleepiness

Symptoms of more severe anoxia or hypoxia can include:

  • Stupor
  • Coma
  • Seizures
  • Spasms
  • Brain cell death

Brain cells are most vulnerable to oxygen deprivation and brain cell death can begin within minutes of losing adequate oxygen supply. Depending on the severity of the injury, severe symptoms can persist anywhere from hours to even years. Due to the rapid rate of damage caused by hypoxia and anoxia, these conditions are considered medical emergencies. If anoxia or hypoxia is suspected, it is crucial that a person receive immediate medical attention.

Treatment of hypoxia and anoxia

Treatment of anoxia and hypoxia depends on the extent of brain and other tissue damage, which is a factor of the duration of reduced or lost oxygen supply to the brain and other organs. Treatment also depends on the underlying cause of hypoxia or anoxia. General life-support mechanisms are often required, including restoration of oxygen supply, fluids, necessary medications (to control blood pressure, seizures, and heart rate), blood products, and treatment of complications.

Recovering from hypoxia and anoxia

Recovery depends on the severity of damages caused by hypoxia and anoxia. A good prognosis is also dependent on how quickly and how well oxygen supply can be restored. Full recovery is more likely in patients who have only suffered a brief lapse of consciousness. The longer the period of unconsciousness, the higher risk of brain tissue damage and/or death and fatality. During the recovery period, a person may experience neurological and psychological problems such as personality regression, hallucinations, amnesia, memory loss, muscle spasms, and seizures. In some cases, anoxia and hypoxia result in a permanent comatose state or fatality.

Hypoxia and legal liability

If you or a loved one has suffered from hypoxia or anoxia due to surgical error, anesthesia error, birth injury, a traumatic injury, or exposure to toxins, you may be able to recover your past and future damages, including medical expenses, loss of income and earning potential, pain and suffering, disability, and wrongful death. To receive a free confidential consultation, please contact our qualified hypoxia lawyers who can determine the best way to protect your family and get you the help you deserve.

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