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New Latin, from Ancient Greek ἀσφυξία (asphuxía, stopping of the pulse): ἀ- (a-, not) + σφύξις (sphúxis, heartbeat) (from σφυγ-, σφύζω (sphúzō, I throb)).


asphyxia (countable and uncountable, plural asphyxias)

  1. The loss of consciousness due to the interruption of breathing and consequent anoxia. Asphyxia can be result from choking, drowning, electric shock, injury.
  2. 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.
  3. (medicine) A condition in which an extreme decrease in the concentration of oxygen in the body leads to loss of consciousness or death. The term is now obsolete, having been replace in mid-twentieth century by the more specific terms anoxia, hypoxia, hypoxemia and hypercapnia.
    • 1895. Robley Dunglison and Richard J. Dunglison, A Dictionary of Medical Science containing a full explanation of the various subjects and terms of anatomy, physiology, medical chemistry, pharmacy, pharmacology, therapeutics, medicine, hygiene, dietetics, pathology, bacteriology, surgery, ophthalmology, otology, laryngology, dermatology, gynecology, obstetrics, pediatrics, medical jurisprudence, dentistry, etc. 21 edition:
      Hypoxaemia [] a deficient oxygenation of the blood; asphyxia from defective oxygenation of the blood.

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  1. third-person singular past historic of asphyxier