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Signs of Oxygen Deficiency in the Brain

author image Jamie Simpson
Jamie Simpson is a researcher and journalist based in Indianapolis with more than 10 years of professional writing experience. She earned her B.S. in animal science from Purdue University and her Master of Public Affairs in public management from Indiana University. Simpson also works as a massage therapist and equine sports massage therapist.
Signs of Oxygen Deficiency in the Brain
Man holds forehead as headache sets in. Photo Credit: Comstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Oxygen deficiency can have serious effects on human tissue. When the deprived tissue is brain tissue, the results can be fatal. As a result, it is beneficial to know the signs of oxygen deficiency in the brain. The Mount Sinai Medical Center reports that cell death can begin within five minutes of the onset of a deficiency, making recognizing the signs and taking action critical.

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Memory Loss

According to the Help Guide, one sign of oxygen deficiency in the brain is a loss of memory function. It notes that oxygenation functions in the brain decline with age, and links basic memory functions to falling oxygen levels in the elderly.

Inability to Concentrate

With mild cases of oxygen deficiency to the brain, patients will notice difficulty with concentration and attentiveness, according to NYU’s Lagone Medical Center. This difficulty with mental tasks can extend to poor judgment.

Coordination Troubles

An onset of poor coordination can be a sign of oxygen deficiency in the brain, notes NYU’s Lagone Medical Center and the Mount Sinai Medical Center. With oxygen levels low, brain power becomes focused on preserving core life functions over fine motor skills.

Extreme Lethargy

Patients who have no energy to move in a departure from normal function may be showing the signs of oxygen deficiency in the brain according to the Mount Sinai Medical Center. Loss of fine motor skills in a progression to major muscle groups as a part of the lethargic experience is a further warning sign of oxygen deficiency in the brain, according to the NYU Lagone Medical Center.


Regardless of the cause of the oxygen deprivation, brain tissues which are deprived of oxygen can trigger seizures throughout the body, according to the Mount Sinai Medical Center. The seizures can occur at the time of the deprivation and continue to recur long after the oxygen deficiency has been removed as a lasting side effect, notes the Mount Sinai Medical Center team.

Cerebral Palsy

According to the Mount Sinai Medical Center, cerebral palsy can be a sign of past oxygen deficiency in the brain. Researchers note that symptoms are present in two of every thousand births, and that insufficient oxygenation of the brain prior to or during birth can lead to the brain damage characteristic of cerebral palsy sufferers.

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