Asphyxia Definition

Loss of consciousness as a result of too little oxygen and too much carbon dioxide in the blood: suffocation causes asphyxia.
Webster's New World
A condition in which an extreme decrease in the concentration of oxygen in the body accompanied by an increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide leads to loss of consciousness or death. Asphyxia can be induced by choking, drowning, electric shock, injury, or the inhalation of toxic gases.
American Heritage Medicine

The loss of consciousness due to the interruption of breathing and consequent anoxia. Asphyxia can be result from choking, drowning, electric shock, injury.


The loss of consciousness due to the body's inability to deliver oxygen to its tissues, either by the breathing of air lacking oxygen or by the inability of the blood to carry oxygen. Such asphyxia can be result from the inhalation of non-toxic gases which displace oxygen from the inhaled air, by exposure to carbon monoxide from smoke inhalation such that hemoglobin is poisoned, or the development of methemoglobinemia.


Origin of Asphyxia

  • New Latin from Greek asphuxiā stopping of the pulse a- not a–1 sphuxis heartbeat (from sphuzein sphug- to throb)

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

  • New Latin, from Ancient Greek ἀσφυξία (asphuxia, “stopping of the pulse”): ἀ- (a-, “not”) + σφύξις (sphuxis, “heartbeat”) (from σφυγ-, σφύζω (sphuzō, “I throb”)).

    From Wiktionary

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