Hypoxia is often the result of delayed treatment for babies when complications are misdiagnosed or missed altogether during the birthing process. Sometimes issues present from the umbilical cord wrapping around the infant's neck, or a bacterial infection or even issues with the placenta can interrupt the flow of oxygen to the baby. Careful monitoring and testing by healthcare providers can help prevent hypoxia in newborns.
Something as simple as asthma or anemia can cause a drop in the oxygen level of the blood. Most mild conditions can be controlled well enough to prevent major issues with hypoxia; however, the presence of these conditions can complicate things if hypoxia is caused by another source, such as an injury. Patients with these illnesses must be watched carefully for signs of hypoxia. Deep water divers who fail to acclimate to the pressure of the ocean water suffer from cerebral hypoxia. A rapid rise to the surface is a common cause for this injury. Hypoxia can result in panic and decreased mental acuity in sufferers. Whether in the deep of the ocean or the highest elevations on earth, the potential for other injuries resulting from poor judgment due to hypoxia is serious.
Hypoxic brain injuries are divided up into four categories based on their severity. Each type of hypoxic injury has a different degree of severity, and a different level of recovery. From least to most severe, the different types of hypoxic brain injury are as follows: diffuse cerebral hypoxia, focal cerebral ischemia, cerebral infarction and global cerebral ischemia. Diagnoses are sometimes changed if the condition worsens.
At the less severe end of the spectrum, diffuse cerebral hypoxia means that blood oxygen levels are below where they are supposed to be. This condition is rarely life threatening, but should never be taken as an insubstantial injury. Conditions can quickly deteriorate into the more severe forms of hypoxia.
A victim of focal cerebral ischemia could suffer from conditions as severe as a even stroke, though the potential for life threatening brain damage is rare. In this form of hypoxia, the lowered oxygen levels are generally in a singular area of the brain.
Far more serious is the advanced hypoxia stage called cerebral infarction. At this point of hypoxia, strokes can not only occur, but they are common. Brain damage is usually irreversible, as are any symptoms resulting from the stroke. What makes this stage so much more dangerous? Unlike in a case of focal cerebral ischemia, the damage to the brain is generalized and oxygen flow to the brain through the blood is completely cut off.
Finally, global cerebral ischemia means that there is no blood flowing to the brain at all. In this most serious level of hypoxia, severe brain damage and death are highly likely.
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