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Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy: Insufficient Oxygen to the Brain

By HERWriter
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Much of the information available on Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy is scholarly and complex. Let's try to simplify things and make this subject easier to grasp.

"Hypoxic" means the oxygen supply is insufficient. Low blood oxygen can lead to altitude sickness. The blood's decreased ability to carry oxygen causes anemia. Low blood flow can eventually result in atherosclerosis, or in sudden onset, shock. In a case of poisoning, cells are prevented from using oxygen.

"Ischemic" refers to the blood supply being restricted due to a problem with the blood vessels. Blood carrying oxygen, glucose and other essential elements doesn't get where it needs to go, and wastes in the blood aren't being carried away, so the wastes build up. This causes tissue damage.

"Encephalopathy" indicates dysfunction in the brain from a variety of causes. The brain may be injured by trauma, or may be affected by disease in the body.

Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) means, then, that the brain has been unable to get sufficient oxygen in its blood supply. This term is frequently used concerning newborns, but can also refer to any injury brought about by inadequate oxygen.

The brain begins to experience cell death if it goes without enough oxygen for five minutes.

When the individual can't breathe for too long a time, HIE is the outcome. This can happen as a result of choking, strangling, drowning, smoke inhalation, or trauma to the trachea (windpipe).

Diseases that paralyze the lungs or the diaphragm, like Guillain-Barre syndrome or myasthenia gravis, can lead to oxygen deprivation. It can also be a consequence of respiratory failure, which means that oxygen or carbon dioxide levels in the arteries cannot be properly maintained.

Poisoning from carbon monoxide, cyanide, or a drug overdose, or adverse reactions to anesthesia during surgery can cause HIE. So can complications in childbirth, blood vessel blockages or ruptures, dangerously low blood pressure, or cardiac arrest.

Even in mild cases of hypoxic eschemic encephalopathy, the individual may have trouble concentrating and may exhibit poor judgment mentally and poor coordination physically.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.