Oxygen starvation of the brain symptoms, treatment and causes

Signs of hypoxia are quite diverse and are determined by the severity of the condition, the duration of exposure to the body of an unfavorable factor, as well as the reactivity of the body itself.

In addition, the symptoms of hypoxia are due to the form in which it occurs. In general, depending on the rate of development of the pathological process, there are:

  • Lightning fast;
  • Sharp;
  • Subacute;
  • Chronic hypoxia

Lightning, acute and subacute forms, in contrast to chronic hypoxia, are characterized by a more pronounced clinical picture. Symptoms of oxygen starvation develop in a fairly quick time, preventing the body from adapting to them. Therefore, the consequences of acute hypoxia for a person are often more serious than the effects of chronic oxygen starvation, which is getting used to gradually. In some cases, they are irreversible.

Chronic hypoxia develops slowly. So, patients who are diagnosed with severe forms of respiratory failure due to chronic lung diseases can live for years without any dramatic symptoms. However, it should be noted that, like the acute form of oxygen starvation, chronic also leads to irreversible consequences. They only develop for a longer time.

The most common signs of acute hypoxia are:

  • The appearance of shortness of breath;
  • Increased respiratory rate and depth;
  • Dysfunction of individual organs and systems.

The chronic form is most often characterized by an increase in the activity of erythropoiesis (the process of formation of red blood cells in the bone marrow) against the background of the development of a pathological condition in which the concentration of red blood cells in a unit of blood volume significantly exceeds the values ​​considered physiologically normal. In addition, in the body there is a violation of the function of various organs and their systems.

Symptoms and consequences of hypoxia depend on the body’s ability to respond to oxygen deficiency, as well as on the degree of ongoing hypoxia. Among the most common symptoms are the appearance of shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, as well as dysfunction of some organs. It is also worth emphasizing that the nervous and cardiovascular system is most susceptible to hypoxia, which is characterized by rapid or decreased heart rate.

In acute hypoxia, the functioning of one of the cerebral hemispheres is possible, which can lead to death or irreversible changes. If hypoxia is chronic, then it is characterized by the appearance of shortness of breath during various physical activities. Chronic fatigue may occur due to a lack of oxygen for all organs.

Like many other disorders in the central nervous system, hypoxia is accompanied by a deterioration in mental activity. The first signs of it are difficulties with solving problems, the deterioration of short-term memory, that is, symptoms that are easily attributed to fatigue.

Despite the sense of self from an objective point of view, cognitive function is impaired. Excitation is accompanied by pallor, but sometimes it can also cause redness of the skin. There is a profuse unpleasant perspiration, rapid breathing and palpitations.

Excitement is replaced by apathy, drowsiness, accompanied by dizziness. Sight falls, “flies” appear before eyes, then the patient loses consciousness. Fainting passes into a coma of varying depths.

Even at this stage, resuscitation help not only saves the patient’s life, but also completely restores all brain functions. Recovery occurs in the reverse order.

The cause of chronic oxygen deficiency is diseases associated with narrowing of blood vessels, for example: cervical artery syndrome in osteochondrosis, hypertensive encephalopathy, etc.

Symptoms of brain hypoxia are the following disorders:

  • dizziness, constant ringing in the ears;
  • persistent headache. The pain is relieved by vasodilator drugs, but immediately returns;
  • imbalance, coordination, speech;
  • bouts of nausea and vomiting in the morning;
  • deterioration of mental abilities – impaired memory, decreased performance;
  • various sleep disturbances are possible;
  • A sharp change of mood is observed, tearfulness, irritability prevail, depression and apathy develop.

The treatment of chronic hypoxia is not separable from the treatment of the underlying disease. Only by eliminating the primary factor can success be achieved by restoring normal blood supply to the brain.

Types of pathological condition

Hemoglobin is responsible for transporting oxygen throughout the body. Hemoglobin deficiency leads to anemia, which causes anemic hypoxia. Lack of iron in the body is the most common cause of anemia. Since iron is involved in the formation of hemoglobin, it will be produced in smaller quantities due to the lack of this trace element, which is either small in the body or poorly absorbed.

Severe hypoxic exogenous hypoxia is characterized by increased heart rate and respiration, the occurrence of tachycardia, and the amount of blood passing through the heart also increases because the bone marrow releases an additional portion of red blood cells into the blood stream to maintain a normal level of oxygen in the body.

In an acute attack of hypoxic hypoxia, the body directs all the blood to the central organs, ignoring the secondary ones. In this case, if the attack is eliminated in a short period of time, then a person can keep his body normal. If the attack is not immediately eliminated, then you can be late with first aid and irreparable reactions will occur in the body, with a possible fatal outcome.

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Types of etiology

In relation to external factors, the state is classified as follows.

  • Hypoxic – or exogenous. The condition develops due to a lack of oxygen in the inhaled air. The most trivial reason is a poorly ventilated room, inaction of ventilation in a completely enclosed room. Climbers face this kind of condition when climbing, as the volume of oxygen in the air decreases with height.
  • Respiratory – or respiratory. Here, violations in the work of the respiratory tract are observed: pneumonia, exacerbation of bronchial asthma, respiratory center dysfunction, trauma and so on. The reasons are obvious and all efforts are directed towards the treatment of the primary disease.
  • Cardiovascular – or circulatory. The cause is changes in the composition of the blood, contributing to the disruption of the normal flow of blood. This condition occurs with heart failure, narrowing of the working channel of the vessel due to thrombosis, atherosclerotic plaque, and so on. The consequences of hypoxia are much more serious, up to ischemic stroke of the brain.
  • Hemic – associated with a change in blood composition. In the human body, oxygen molecules are transported as a complex with hemoglobin. With a decrease in the amount of hemoglobin or red blood cells, oxygen remains unbound and, accordingly, cannot be delivered to the cell. The same picture is observed when the mechanism of hemoglobin binding with oxygen is destroyed.
  • Tissue – in this case, the mechanism of oxygen utilization in the cell is violated, for example, when a fragment of the respiratory chain of mitochondria is blocked. This effect is exerted by some poisons and medicines.
  • Overload – as a rule, a temporary phenomenon associated with excessive stress on the muscles, nerve tissue or organ.
  • Technogenic – such hypoxia is formed with the constant action of harmful, poisonous substances in some industries.
  • Mixed – any kind of hypoxia, long enough for tissue hypoxia to occur. Here you need treatment both the primary form and the secondary.
  • Lightning fast – for example, due to hemorrhage in the respiratory center or as a result of an injury. If urgent care is not provided, this condition ends in death.
  • Acute hypoxia of the brain develops in a few hours. An example of this is cyanide poisoning, which blocks the respiratory chain enzyme. Help is needed immediately, otherwise neither life nor human health is guaranteed. However, more time is allocated for therapeutic measures.
  • Chronic hypoxia of the brain is not so life-threatening, but significantly reduces its quality. To compensate for the constant lack of oxygen, the body uses a variety of additional mechanisms. However, any of them are aimed only at supporting life, but not at all at the full restoration of functions.

The most obvious compensation mechanisms include an increase in the depth and frequency of inputs. Reserve alveoli begin to participate in breathing in order to maximize the working surface. Outwardly, this manifests itself as severe shortness of breath, which significantly limits mobility. This increases the heart rate and pressure.

Redistribution of blood flow occurs: more blood is directed to the internal organs, and the periphery begins to experience secondary oxygen hunger. The lack of oxygen makes it necessary to increase the number of red blood cells, which significantly increases the risk of thrombosis.

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All this leads to rapid wear and damage to the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Therefore, treatment of hypoxia should be started at the earliest stages. It is much more difficult to cope with a painful condition and the consequences of its compensation later.

A lack of oxygen can be observed in a specific area of ​​the brain, and can cover the entire organ.

Consider the following types:

  • Broken – a consequence of a general lack of oxygen in the blood. Causes low to moderate impairment. It is cured with the most favorable forecasts.
  • Central cerebral ischemia is formed when there is a violation of the blood supply to some part of the brain. The reason, as a rule, is the narrowing of the vessel – aneurysm, blood clot. Typically, this condition is part of a larger disease.
  • Global cerebral ischemia – complete cessation of blood flow.
  • Ischemic stroke – the cause is also a sharp narrowing or obstruction of a blood vessel. Usually, a stroke spans multiple sites.

Chronic hypoxia

This degree of hypoxic hypoxia is characteristic during a period of serious illness, it takes a fairly long time. This is the main difference from acute hypoxia. With a long period, the body adapts to the conditions of oxygen deficiency and begins to receive oxygen for cells in new ways. In the lungs, the network of blood vessels increases, and the blood is supplied with additional hemoglobin.

Hypoxia treatment

Treatment of hypoxia involves the appointment of a set of measures aimed at eliminating its causes, combating the lack of oxygen, as well as making adjustments to the body’s homeostasis system.

In some cases, to eliminate the effects of hypoxia, ventilating the room or walking in the fresh air is enough. If the condition is provoked by more serious causes and is associated with diseases of the blood system, lungs, cardiovascular system or poisoning with toxic substances, for the treatment of hypoxia can be recommended:

  • Therapy using oxygen equipment (masks, pillows, spray cans, etc.);
  • The appointment of antihypoxic drugs, bronchodilators, respiratory analeptics, etc .;
  • The use of oxygen concentrators;
  • Artificial lung ventilation;
  • Blood transfusion and stimulation of blood formation;
  • Heart and vascular corrective surgery;
  • Prescribing drugs with a cardiotropic effect;
  • The use of antidotes in combination with artificial ventilation of the lungs and the appointment of drugs whose action is aimed at improving the utilization of oxygen by tissues (in case of poisoning).
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Since the causes of the condition are diverse, different methods are also used to treat brain hypoxia.

  • The exogenous form only requires the restoration of the normal oxygen content in the blood, and the source is inhaled air. The treatment method is an oxygen pillow.
  • In the case of respiratory hypoxia, treatment is aimed at restoring the functions of the respiratory tract. To do this, use respiratory analeptics, drugs that expand the bronchi, antihypoxanes.
  • With the hemic form, drugs are used that contribute to the restoration of hematopoiesis function. A common method is blood transfusion.
  • For the treatment of circulatory hypoxia, anticoagulants, vasodilators, nootropics, decongestants, angioprotectors, and so on are prescribed.
  • The tissue form involves the use of antidotes, if the root cause is poisoning. Any measures aimed at improving oxygen supply are acceptable: taking vitamins, hyperbaric oxygenation, and even walking in the fresh air.

Acute brain hypoxia is a deadly condition. Chronic significantly reduces the standard of living. Any form of the disease requires effective and immediate treatment.

In case of detection of fetal hypoxia, the pregnant woman is hospitalized in an obstetric and gynecological hospital. The presence of fetal hypoxia requires correction of the existing obstetric and extragenital pathology of the mother and normalization of fetoplacental circulation. Pregnant is shown strict rest, oxygen therapy. A therapy is carried out aimed at reducing the tone of the uterus (papaverine, drotaverin, aminophylline, hexoprenaline, terbutaline), reducing intravascular coagulation (dipyridamole, dextran, calf blood hemoderivative, pentoxifylline).

Chronic fetal hypoxia requires the introduction of drugs that improve cellular permeability to oxygen and metabolism (essential phospholipids, vitamins E, C, B6, glutamic acid, glucose), antihypoxants, and neuroprotectors. With an improvement in the state of the pregnant woman and a decrease in the phenomena of hypoxia of the fetus, pregnant women can be recommended breathing exercises, aqua gymnastics, ultraviolet radiation, inductothermy. In case of ineffectiveness of complex measures and preservation of signs of fetal hypoxia for a period of more than 28 weeks, delivery is indicated on an emergency basis (emergency cesarean section).

Childbirth in chronic fetal hypoxia is carried out using cardiomonitoring, which allows timely application of additional measures. In acute hypoxia that developed during childbirth, the child needs resuscitation care. Timely correction of fetal hypoxia, the rational management of pregnancy and childbirth can avoid the development of gross violations in the child. In the future, all children who developed under conditions of hypoxia are observed by a neurologist; often they need the help of a psychologist and speech therapist.

Since hypoxia is a very dangerous disease, with a possible fatal outcome, a lot of attention is paid to its treatment. For the treatment of hypoxic hypoxia, complex treatment is used, which includes eliminating the causes of the disease, as well as adjusting the functioning of the body’s blood supply system. If hypoxia is presented in a mild form, it can be corrected by taking walks in the fresh air, as well as increasing the ventilation of the premises.

In case the degree of hypoxic hypoxia is more serious, there are several complex treatment methods. Most often, artificial oxygenation of the lungs is used. With this method, various oxygen pillows, masks, as well as an artificial lung ventilation system are used. In addition to this patient, drugs that expand the respiratory structure are prescribed.

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Tatyana Jakowenko

Editor-in-chief of the Detonic online magazine, cardiologist Yakovenko-Plahotnaya Tatyana. Author of more than 950 scientific articles, including in foreign medical journals. He has been working as a cardiologist in a clinical hospital for over 12 years. He owns modern methods of diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular diseases and implements them in his professional activities. For example, it uses methods of resuscitation of the heart, decoding of ECG, functional tests, cyclic ergometry and knows echocardiography very well.

For 10 years, she has been an active participant in numerous medical symposia and workshops for doctors - families, therapists and cardiologists. He has many publications on a healthy lifestyle, diagnosis and treatment of heart and vascular diseases.

He regularly monitors new publications of European and American cardiology journals, writes scientific articles, prepares reports at scientific conferences and participates in European cardiology congresses.