Hypoxic brain injuries occur when inadequate oxygen reaches the brain due to conditions such as smoke inhalation, carbon monoxide poisoning or strangulation. Symptoms may include poor judgment, uncoordinated movement, coma and an inability to breathe. The symptoms vary depending on the length of time without oxygen, according to MedlinePlus.
Not getting enough oxygen to the brain results in a medical emergency, and it requires treatment immediately, warns MedlinePlus. The chances of recovery improve as the brain's time without oxygen is minimized.
If the brain suffers a lack of oxygen for a brief period, there is a greater chance that doctors can reverse the patient's coma and improve the conditions of recovery, advises MedlinePlus. The potential complications include entering a permanent vegetative state. In such cases, most patients die within a year.
The onset of hypoxia is subtle, warns BrainInjuryInstitute.org. The early symptoms include nausea, headache, dizziness, fatigue and rapid breathing. The patient may exhibit a loss of coordination, inattentiveness and experience visual difficulties. Brain cells start to die within five minutes of the loss of its oxygen supply.
Treatments for hypoxia include mechanical ventilation of the patient, controlling the heart rate and rhythm, and medication to control seizures. Sometimes, medical facilities may lower the patient's body temperature to reduce the brain's need for oxygen, but medical research as of 2015 has not established the benefit of this treatment, according to MedlinePlus.