Is Suffocation Painful?

Is Suffocation Painful

Is suffocation painful? Seeing the expression on people’s faces will make you conclude that suffocation hurts badly. However, there are people with a contrary view. They believe it doesn’t hurt. Well, if you are in such a category, this post will help to clear your doubts. So, the question is;

Does suffocation hurt?  

The answer is yes, it does. It’s not just your brain that needs oxygen. Your heart and lungs also do. When air is not available or sufficient, one could start experiencing a form of chest pain. When there’s no oxygen, the pain could even be worse. The reason for this pain could be as a result of the lungs clogging with contaminants and carbon dioxide trapped in the lungs. One may experience more severe pain following the depletion of oxygen because of the damage done to muscles and vital organs. Let’s also not forget the experience of a heart attack. Those who were lucky to survive such an attack will better understand how painful the experience is.

Continue reading for more useful information on the topic!

What Does Suffocation Means?

Have you ever experienced a situation where breathing suddenly became difficult? Just like someone extremely tasty and wouldn’t mind drinking unclean water, suffocation is worse. Your lungs, brain, vital organs, and tissues cannot survive without air (oxygen). At least, we all can survive without water or food for some days, but not oxygen.

So suffocation also called asphyxia is a condition no one wishes to experience. It will make you feel uncomfortable, and it hurts badly.

So, what is suffocation? It’s a condition whereby the body isn’t getting the amount of oxygen it’s supposed to get. It then means that oxygen supply to one’s body is severely deficient. And when this happens, the victim or patient needs to be attended to immediately. Failure to do so can lead to coma or death.

You might have heard the term “oximeter.” It’s a device paramedics place on the finger of a suffocating person to ascertain the level of oxygen in the person’s body. The acceptable reading when the oximeter is used should be 100%. That’s the figure considered perfect. Anything lower than 90 – 93% indicates that there’s a severe problem!

Suffocation: Signs Of Oxygen Deprivation

Suffocation isn’t an experience one would be happy discussing. The only positive when it happens is if the individual in question is still alive. Suffocation can end one’s life. And it can happen within a short time.

The thing is many don’t think it hurts, and it’s because they haven’t experienced one. Well, we are hoping no one reading this post will experience such. Nevertheless, the feeling is worth discussing and knowing.

When suffocation or hypoxia strikes, you may feel uncomfortable and may have difficulty breathing. You may find yourself struggling to catch your breath or notice your heart beating faster than usual. Keep in mind that the reason it beats faster is to make an effort to provide enough blood to the brain.

Another thing you need to know is the dangers of oxygen deprivation. It can cause severe injury to the victim. Also, when the deprivation is less severe, the symptoms might be subtle or even unnoticed. When it’s harsh, most adults might notice it quickly and react. In most cases, many individuals deprived of oxygen lost the ability to speak correctly. They can hear clearly but can’t talk.

It’s also important to know that kids may not know if they are experiencing suffocation or not. Hence, parents should guide and protect them.

So What Are The Signs Of Oxygen Deprivation?

  • Something obstructing one’s mouth, face, or nose could lead to suffocation. Many factors could be responsible. One is when you are exposed to carbon monoxide (fume from vehicles, generators, and other machines that are using fossil fuel). This fume or CO2 gas is a huge problem when one is trapped in an enclosed place. So, when you have your face covered or stay in a small enclosed space, you are bound to suffer from deprivation of oxygen.
  • Oxygen deprivation leads to loss of one’s consciousness. It includes cases like seizures or fainting.
  • Another sign of oxygen deprivation is the sudden change in personality or mood. In this case, you will find that the victim seems and acts confused.
  • The lip, face, and tongue can turn white or blue.
  • Another symptom is hyperventilating. In this case, you will find the individual gasping for air.
  • Someone who is chocking will not have the ability to cough or be able to speak a word.

The Devastating Effect Of Suffocation: How Long Can You Stay Without Oxygen?

We have already established the fact that suffocation can be painful. Another important question one should be asking at this point is; how long can an individual stay without oxygen?

The answer is four to six minutes. When an individual is choking or suffocating, it invariably means that oxygen isn’t entering the lungs. Of course, the brain needs oxygen, and when it doesn’t get enough of it, you can expect it to start dying.

How come Guinness World Record holders stay more than four to six minutes underwater without breathing? This question seems to counter the claim that the brain can only stay for 4-6 minutes without oxygen before it begins to die. But here’s something you need to know.

The individual who has the Guinness World Record for someone who has been able to hold his breath underwater for longer is Aleix Segura, a man from Spain. Aleix stayed underwater for 24 minutes and 3 seconds.

How do Guinness World Record holders for long breath achieve such a milestone? Well, before they go underwater, these record chasers tend to breathe in pure oxygen for at least 30 minutes or more. The idea is to remove as much carbon dioxide as they can, out of their system. When this happens, the extra oxygen they have left in their body can help them to stay underwater for an extended period without breathing.

Also, many healthy individuals can hold their breath for about two minutes. Some experts also believe that the duration one can hold his or her breath can increase with consistent practice. However, it’s not advisable to deprive the body of something it needs every second, talking about oxygen. Experts have warned that doing so can have some adverse effects.

Here’s what happens when you hold your breath for long.  Remember that we talked about the possibility of having a painful experience when suffocating? Well, here’s what happens when one is suffocating or hold his or her breath for an extended period.

The problem with doing this is that carbon dioxide, which is the gas we humans breathe out, tends to build up on the inside.

Carbon dioxide buildup on the inside leaves a terrible experience for any individual. It’s a gas that must be released. Otherwise, a simple reflex can cause the breathing muscles of one’s body to experience spasm. And really, the seizures hurt, and it’s the reason people gasp for air a few minutes after experiencing suffocation.

Protecting Children From Suffocation: Things You Need To Do

Young infants and newborns can suffer suffocation as a result of their sleeping position. The young infants may be able to control their nose or head to prevent suffocation, but there’s still a high possibility of what experts call “smothering” to happen.

So, as a parent, you have to ensure your newborns don’t get suffocated. The experience is not only painful but can cut the kid’s life short. Here’s what to do to prevent your kids from suffocating.

  • Your child’s sleeping position matters, likewise, their sleeping mattress. If you want to prevent suffocation, ensure you lay your infant on his or her back, and use a firmer mattress.
  • Avoid placing your newborn or young infant on a soft surface. These include fluffy rugs, comforter, or soft mattresses. Most kids change positions multiple times while sleeping and could be in a situation where breathing becomes difficult.
  • Avoid placing your infant on a mattress that’s covered with plastic material.
  • The materials you put in your infants’ crib can also contribute to suffocation. So, be careful of what you leave in their cribs. Things to avoid are stuffed animals, pillows, plush toys, and blankets.


Is suffocation painful? That’s the question, and the answer is yes. Suffocation hurts badly and can result in one’s demise if nothing is done urgently. However, CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) can help to keep victims of suffocation or asthma alive. CPR helps supply oxygen to one’s organs before the arrival of paramedics. So, you can try that whenever you encounter someone suffocating. And if you are one of those trying to practice how to stop breathing for an extended period, ensure you are accompanied and watched by someone.

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