Asphyxia

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Asphyxia can cause coma or death.

Asphyxia or asphyxiation (from Ancient Greek α- "without" and σφύξις sphyxis, "heartbeat") is a condition of severely deficient supply of oxygen to the body that arises from abnormal breathing. An example of asphyxia is choking. Asphyxia causes generalized hypoxia, which affects primarily the tissues and organs. There are many circumstances that can induce asphyxia, all of which are characterized by an inability of an individual to acquire sufficient oxygen through breathing for an extended period of time. Asphyxia can cause coma or death.

Quotes[edit]

...Asphyxial deaths include suffocation, smothering, choking, positional asphyxia, mechanical asphyxia, traumatic asphyxia, hanging, strangulation, and “chemical” asphyxia - David Dolinak
In the last two decades of the twentieth century, hundreds of people have died of carbon dioxide asphyxiation near volcanoes ... - Allison Stark Draper
One of my favorite methods of escape was what amounts to gentle asphyxiation. I used a piece of cloth that I cut from the remnants of a blanket. I called it my dream rag....I would be visited by the most extraordinary dreams, trances, visions, thoughts, sensations, remembrances. And time would be gobbled up. - Yann Martel.
  • A death is attributed to asphyxia only when the asphyxia itself is the condition that directly causes the death.... Asphyxia (Greek for “breathlessness”) is defined as the lack of oxygen in the blood or the failure of cells to utilize oxygen, and a failure of the body to eliminate carbon dioxide. Asphyxial deaths are commonly divided into different categories based on the nature of the cause for inadequate respiration. Asphyxial deaths include suffocation, smothering, choking, positional asphyxia, mechanical asphyxia, traumatic asphyxia, hanging, strangulation, and “chemical” asphyxia.
  • Big handfuls of pills, munch em up. That peculiar blue cast of the fingernails following asphyxiation—in its final grim struggle to survive the brain takes all the oxygen that is left, even that in those living cells under the nails.
  • One of my favorite methods of escape was what amounts to gentle asphyxiation. I used a piece of cloth that I cut from the remnants of a blanket. I called it my dream rag. I wet it with sea water so that it was soaked but not dripping. [...]. I would fall into a daze, not difficult for someone in such an advanced state of lethargy to begin with. But the dream rag gave a special quality to my daze. It must have been the way it restricted my air intake. I would be visited by the most extraordinary dreams, trances, visions, thoughts, sensations, remembrances. And time would be gobbled up.
  • This wasteful governing by fear, by contempt for the basic dignities of life, this steady asphyxiation of a dependent people, should be the very last means to be adopted by those who themselves know too well the awful significance, the unforgettable suffering of such an existence. It is unworthy of my great people, the Jews, who have striven to abide by a code of moral rectitude for some 5,000 years, who can create and achieve a society for themselves such as we see around us but can yet deny the sharing of its great qualities and benefits to those dwelling amongst them.

Atlas of Forensic Pathology: For Police, Forensic Scientists, Attorneys, and Death Investigators[edit]

Although drowning may be considered a specialized form of asphyxia in which environmental oxygen (air) is displaced by a liquid (usually water), the mechanism of death is much more complicated as it also involves hydrostatic and osmotic effects of inhaled fluid within the small airways.

Joseph A. Prahlow, Roger W. Byard in: Atlas of Forensic Pathology: For Police, Forensic Scientists, Attorneys, and Death Investigators, Springer Science & Business Media, 21 December 2011

  • While the term asphyxia literally means without a pulse, modern usage limits its application to cases where the body has been exposed to a significant reduction in oxygen levels resulting in impaired tissue oxygenation (delivery of oxygen to the body’s cells).
    • In: p.633
  • If asphyxia is considered pathophysiologically, there are four stages where the transfer of oxygen can be compromised i.e., oxygen reduction at the cellular level may be caused by (1) decreased amounts of oxygen in the environment, (2) reduced transfer from the air to the blood, (3) reduced transport from the lungs to the tissues, and (4) reduced transfer across cell membranes.
    • In: p.633
  • In smothering, blockage of the mouth and nose results in failure of oxygen to enter the lungs and reach the blood. ... and results from poisoning of vital cell processes that prevent tissues from receiving or utilizing the available oxygen.
    • In: p.633
  • Although drowning may be considered a specialized form of asphyxia in which environmental oxygen (air) is displaced by a liquid (usually water), the mechanism of death is much more complicated as it also involves hydrostatic and osmotic effects of inhaled fluid within the small airways.
    • In: p.693

Textbook of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology[edit]

In coma there is a combination of both syncope and asphyxia leading to death. It is due to paralysis or insensibility of vital centers in the brain stem.

Rao, in: Textbook of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, Jaypee Brothers Publishers, 1999

  • In the 13th century a manual was prescribed in China for examination of injuries caused by different weapons, investigation of death from asphyxia and other causes.
    • In: p. 3
  • In coma there is a combination of both syncope and asphyxia leading to death. It is due to paralysis or insensibility of vital centers in the brain stem.
    • In: p. 119
  • In young adolescent/adults/even middle aged sexual asphyxia must be though as masochistic - autoerotic hanging is common in this age group. These activities usually amount to accidental hanging, here death not being intended by the man who is indulging in sexual fantasies produced by temporary cerebral ischemi, by a controlled hanging (refer Asphyxial Death).
    • In: p. 154
  • Asphyxial deaths are said to be caused by failure of cells to receive and/ or utilize oxygen. The deprivation of oxygen may be partial (w:Hypoxia|hypoxia]]/suboxia) or total (anoxia/anoxemia). The terminologies anoxia, anoxemia, suboxia, hypoxia, etc. are though considered better ones the terminology “asphyxia” has been accepted in medico legal sense globally.
    • In: p. 157
  • It has been scientifically accepted that pressure on the neck can result in occlusion of neck structures for respiratory functioning, developing asphyxia. Experimentally it is proved that pressure/ force of 3 l/2 to 5 kg weight on the neck can occlude jugular vein and carotid arteries, 15 kg can occlude trachea and 16 kg can occlude vertebral arteries. All these can bring about gross decrease in cerebral blood flow leading to cerebral anoxia, aspyhixia and death.
    • In: p. 160

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