Home Heart health Air embolism: symptoms and treatment

Air embolism: symptoms and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

The air embolism is the blood obstruction towards the organs that is produced by the presence of bubbles within an artery. The air embolism can be produced by an injury to the lungs or by some decompression sickness, and these bubbles in turn can travel to any organ of the body and obstruct the blood vessels of the brain, heart or kidneys, among others, producing a series of problems depending on the affected organ, such as loss of consciousness or even death.

In the following FastlyHealarticle we will talk all about air embolism: symptoms and treatment , we will also explain how it can be diagnosed in order to differentiate it from other diseases, since its symptoms can be similar to those of a stroke and easily confused.

What is air embolism

Air embolism refers to the presence of an air bubble within the bloodstream , which moves along the artery until it blocks the blood supply to a specific area.

Air embolism is the most common cause of death in divers and occurs within minutes of surfacing. This occurs since a person requires oxygen and nitrogen, the body will use oxygen and nitrogen will dissolve within the blood, if at the time of rising to the surface it becomes too fast the nitrogen will separate from the blood forming bubbles, the which are enlarged during the ascent due to the decrease in pressure.

It can also be caused by a skull fracture , where veins in the brain that have a pressure below atmospheric can be affected, which can lead to air entering and thus cause an embolism.

What are the symptoms of air embolism

Its symptoms can be simply mistaken for a stroke. Among its most frequent symptoms are:

  • Partial paralysis (hemiparesis)
  • Mental confusion
  • Sudden loss of consciousness
  • Motor or sensory defects

Other people report having suffered from seizures, shortness of breath and others have a state of shock.

In addition, the person reports presenting an auditory alteration that is a hiss that is produced by the interaction of blood and air, there is pulmonary affection, ophthalmological alterations and thoracic pressure .

Diagnosis of cerebral air embolism

Air embolism to be diagnosed and differentiated requires a lot of attention. In the case of divers, it may be easier to assume, since there is a sudden loss of consciousness a few minutes after ascending and if the companions are instructed they will be able to easily detect the symptoms of air embolism, symptoms that we have already explained to you previously. .

In the rest of the cases, different methods will be necessary to be able to find an accurate diagnosis. It can be diagnosed through a clinical examination , evaluating the person’s symptoms and frequent activities. In some cases, the imaging method will be used, although it is not reliable because air can be reabsorbed, however studies such as echocardiography , computerized tomography of the skull or chest and ventilation-perfusion scintigraphy can help in the diagnosis .

Air embolism: treatment

The treatment for air embolism has several procedures, first when determining that the person is suffering from air embolism it is necessary to raise it to the surface, place it on the ground and administer oxygen . At the moment of being placed in an environment with high pressure, the air bubbles dissolve in the blood, that is, the size of the bubbles decreases according to the increase in atmospheric pressure.

In other cases, the doctor or medical center has hyperbaric chambers in which they are responsible for supplying oxygen for the patient to breathe, this will make the oxygen reach the bubbles and dislodge the nitrogen inside them, it responds very well as a treatment .

In the event that the air embolism occurs in surgery, the doctor must seal the open blood vessels to prevent more air from entering.

Prevention for air embolism

An air embolism can be prevented for those who practice diving , it is recommended for those who perform this activity that when submerging they must go up slowly and carefully , in addition to not last long submerged.

You should not fly in the next 24 hours, even at low altitude because this will only cause the bubbles to expand, nor should you drink alcohol before diving.

It must be taken into consideration that those people who suffer from a heart defect should not carry out this activity, nor people who suffer from type 1 diabetes , those who need the administration of insulin.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Air Embolism: Symptoms and Treatment , we recommend that you enter our Blood, Heart and Circulation category .

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