What does asphyxiation feel like?

Answered by Edward Huber

Asphyxiation, or the deprivation of oxygen to the body, can be a terrifying and life-threatening experience. The symptoms and sensations associated with asphyxiation can vary depending on the severity and duration of oxygen deprivation. It is important to note that I am not a medical professional, but I can try to provide a general understanding based on available information.

One of the most common symptoms of asphyxiation is a headache. This can range from a mild discomfort to a severe, pounding sensation. The lack of oxygen in the brain can cause blood vessels to dilate and put pressure on sensitive nerve endings, leading to this headache.

Dizziness is another common symptom experienced during asphyxiation. As the brain is deprived of oxygen, it struggles to function properly, leading to feelings of lightheadedness and a loss of balance. This can make it difficult to stand or walk, and individuals may feel as if the world is spinning around them.

Fatigue is also a common symptom during asphyxiation. The body’s cells require oxygen to produce energy, and without an adequate supply, fatigue and weakness can set in. Individuals may feel exhausted and find it difficult to perform even simple tasks.

Nausea and euphoria can also be experienced during asphyxiation. The lack of oxygen can affect the digestive system, leading to feelings of nausea and even vomiting. In addition, some individuals may experience a sense of euphoria or a feeling of being detached from reality. This is thought to be caused by the brain’s response to the lack of oxygen and can be quite disorienting.

In severe cases of asphyxiation, loss of consciousness can occur without warning. This can be a frightening experience, as individuals may suddenly find themselves unable to stay awake or alert. Loss of consciousness is often accompanied by convulsions, which are involuntary muscle contractions. These convulsions can be violent and may cause further injury.

Following loss of consciousness, cyanosis, or a bluish discoloration of the skin, may become apparent. This is a result of the body’s tissues being deprived of oxygen and can be particularly noticeable in the lips, fingers, and extremities. Cyanosis is a serious sign of oxygen deprivation and should be treated as a medical emergency.

If oxygen deprivation continues for around seven minutes or longer, the brainstem, which controls vital functions such as breathing and heart rate, can be irreversibly damaged. This can lead to cardiac arrest, where the heart stops beating, and ultimately, death.

It is important to remember that the experience of asphyxiation can vary from person to person, and these symptoms may not be experienced by everyone in the same way. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of asphyxiation, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention.