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Frequent strangulation inducing brain damage
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Frequent strangulation inducing brain damage

I've recently been participating in jujitsu, where a common choking technique involves applying pressure to the neck region and blocking blood circulation (carotid arteries and jugular veins) to and from the brain. The choke is applied until an opponent either signals defeat or if the opponent loses consciousness. The choke usually lasts for 5 seconds, and 90% of the time, the choke is released before loss of consciousness.(http://judoinfo.com/chokes4.htm figure 2)

I've been experiencing headache and drowsiness after being choked and the symptom lasts for roughly a day or two, however everything is back to normal within a week (usually 3 to 4 days at most). My symptoms seem to interfere with my ability to engage in high cognitive tasks (analysis neuronal spike data using MatLab). However, I do not feel any motor deficit and I am able to exercise at high intensity without any problems.

I think my symptoms are most likely due to increase in intracranial pressure (ICP) since the symptom becomes more pronounced when my head tilts below my heart. I believe the increase in ICP is due to occlusion of the jugular veins during heavy exercise intensity.

My question is whether or not there is a risk of irreversible brain damage being done due to the choking technique i've mentioned? My biggest concern is whether the increase in ICP be enough to decrease regional blood flow to the point of causing brain damage? As I've mentioned the choke lasted for less than 5 seconds, and my symptoms seems to be reversible in a day or two.

Thank you for your time!
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Dear csrichie,

Thanks for posting your query.

Regarding the query whether choking can cause irreversible brain damage or not, I personally feel repeated episodes of choking can compromise the blood supply to the brain and cause cell death. As brain cells have very high consumption of the oxygen and cannot sustain very long without oxygen, brain cell dysfunction can occur.

Also, an increase in the intracranial pressure can also cause symptoms like heaviness of the head, giddiness and can impair the functioning of the cells further which have already suffered the hypoxia due to carotid occlusion. If the blood supply of the brain cells is totally cut off, they can die in 8-10 seconds.

Once the blood supply is restored, brain cells show gradual recovery which can take anywhere between 2 days to a week. So I personally recommend that you avoid such exercises and prevent slow death of the brain cells.

Hope that this information helps and hope that you will get better soon.

Thank you for using MedHelp's "Ask an Expert" Service, where we feature some of world's renowned medical experts in their fields. Millions have benefitted from our service to get personalized advice for them and for their loved ones.

Best Regards,
Dr. Shiva Kumar R
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