What causes anoxia?

Anoxia may be caused by a number of environmental factors or by underlying diseases or conditions.

Environmental factors that cause anoxia

Anoxia may be caused by a lack of oxygen or the presence of other chemicals in the air that affect the ability of your blood to load oxygen. These environmental effects may be caused by factors including:

  • Carbon monoxide
  • Cyanide poisoning
  • High altitude
  • Smoke

    Underlying diseases or conditions that cause anoxia

    Certain underlying diseases or conditions can lead to an insufficient uptake or delivery of oxygen to tissues and organs, leading to anoxia. These conditions include:

    • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease; a severe neuromuscular disease that causes muscle weakness and disability)
    • Cardiac arrest
    • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD; includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis)
    • Heart failure
    • Myocardial infarction (heart attack)
    • Respiratory failure
    • Severe asthma and allergies
    • Stroke

    Other events that cause anoxia

    Anoxia may also be caused by other conditions or events including:

    • Choking
    • Complications of anesthetics
    • Drowning
    • Drug overdose
    • Low blood pressure (hypotension)
    • Poisoning
    • Strangulation
    • Suffocation
    • Trauma to a tissue or organ

    What are the risk factors for anoxia?

    Anoxia may be caused by a number of underlying conditions. Therefore, if you have one of these underlying conditions or you have a family history of these conditions, you may be at increased risk of experiencing anoxia. Additionally, certain activities may increase your risk of experiencing anoxia. Risk factors for anoxia include:

    • Asthma and allergies
    • Climbing or hiking at high altitude
    • Flying in nonpressurized planes
    • Heart or lung disease

        What is anoxia?

        Anoxia is an extreme form of hypoxia (low levels of oxygen in the blood) in which there is a complete lack of oxygen supply to the body as a whole or to a specific organ or tissue region. Anoxia can result from inadequate amounts of oxygen in the air, such as at high altitudes, from an inability of your blood to load and carry oxygen to tissues and organs, from the inability of the heart to pum... Read more about anoxiaintroduction


        What are the symptoms of anoxia?

        Symptoms of anoxia are serious and will begin to appear within minutes. Milder symptoms could indicate a hypoxic event that could lead to anoxia and should be immediately treated in an emergency setting.

        Common milder symptoms of anoxia

        Most symptoms of anoxia are severe. However, anoxia typically begins with milder symptoms including:


        How is anoxia treated?

        The treatment of anoxia depends on its severity and the amount of damage to the tissue or organ that experienced the anoxia.

        Common treatments for anoxia

        In general, treatment for anoxia includes restoring the oxygen supply, through either increasing the amount of oxygen taken in, such as with an oxygen mask, or assistance with breathing. Other treatment options include... Read more about anoxiatreatments

        Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 9, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

        This Article is Filed Under: Brain and Nerves