Definition of Asphyxia

The inability of the lungs to take in air or conduct the oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange, depriving the body of oxygen.

Asphyxia is a life-threatening emergency that requires immediate medical treatment.

The emergency may occur as a consequence of water or other fluids in the lungs (drowning) that results in suffocation (inability of air to enter the lungs), carbon monoxide poisoning, trauma to the trachea (windpipe), injury to the brainstem affecting the nervous system signals that regulate breathing, compression of the neck or chest, electrical shock, cardiovascular collapse, and other circumstances that interfere with breathing.

A person experiencing asphyxia may require immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (cpr) until medical care is available.

See also HYPOXIA.

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