Asphyxia

From ArticleWorld


Asphyxia is a medical condition characterized by a very low supply of oxygen to someone's body. If nothing is done to remedy it, asphyxia quickly leads to loss of consciousness and even death. If it does not cause death but it lasts long enough, asphyxia can lead to brain damage.

The causes can be of multiple natures, including physical or chemical:

  • Pressure applied on chest or lungs, obstructing airflow to or from lungs.
  • Choking
  • Constriction of neck or throat (e.g. strangling)
  • Practicing of erotic asphyxiation
  • Inhaling voma (famous Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham died like this)
  • Breathing in environments with very low oxygen level
  • Misuse of rebreathing devices
  • Contact with a cyanogen compound or a pulmonary agent

Some complications during childbirth can lead to asphyxia of the newborn. Some drugs have physiological effects that may lead to asphyxia in case of overdose. Sleep apnea is also a common cause.

Death by asphyxia

Asphyxia has been used as an execution method for a long time, and it is currently starting to gain field in the suicide methods. It is a common method in countries like Japan, where suicide pacts between more persons are finalized with asphyxia using carbon monoxide. It has also been traditionally used for execution of royal family members in Muslim countries, where the religion forbids their blood to be spilled.

Emergency response

Emergency response includes ventilating the patient as soon as possible, by removing (or avoiding) the cause of asphyxia. Some measures (like incisions in one's trachea) require medical training and should not be performed by amateurs.