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What are the signs and symptoms of anoxic encephalopathy?

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Signs and symptoms of anoxic encephalopathy include confusion, memory loss, weakness, a lack of coordination and seizures, according to NeuLife. Anoxic encephalopathy occurs when the brain is damaged due to a lack of oxygen. The more severe the oxygen deprivation is, the more severe the symptoms are.

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Brain cells begin to die when deprived of oxygen for four minutes, maintains Mount Sinai Hospital. Possible causes of anoxic encephalopathy include stroke, heart attack, lung disease, altitude sickness and carbon monoxide poisoning. Anoxic encephalopathy also occurs when breathing stops for a period of time, such as during drowning, choking or suffocation.

Depending on the circumstances of the oxygen deprivation, symptoms may come on suddenly or develop gradually over a period of days or weeks, states Mount Sinai Hospital. Neurologists use MRI scans, CT scans and electroencephalograms to diagnose anoxic encephalopathy. Immediate treatment after oxygen deprivation includes the direct administration of oxygen, medication to improve blood flow and cooling to the brain to decrease the rate of damage.

Long-term treatment for anoxic encephalopathy involves rehabilitation programs to improve functioning, reports Mount Sinai Hospital. Physical therapy targets physical movements. Occupational therapy focuses on improving life skills. Speech therapists work to improve language skills, and psychologists focus on helping with emotional and behavior problems related to the injury.

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