Brain death is the complete and irreversible loss of brain function. In most cases, it is most commonly associated with physical death but does not have to be. Instead, there are times when a body can be kept alive, usually by artificial or mechanical means, even though there is no brain function. This is when the term brain death, or being brain dead, is most often used.
Through the advancements of modern science, humans have learned how to keep a body alive beyond a point that natural means could achieve by themselves. However, doing so comes at a price. Usually, for the person involved, this is a last-ditch effort to try to save them when medical doctors may think recovery is still possible. Therefore, in most cases, the use of such machines is only temporary until further evaluations can be done and a diagnosis of brain death can be made.
Determining brain death is usually done through the use of an electroencephalogram. This device measures electrical impulses in the brain, which is how brain cells communicate with one another. If there are no electrical impulses detected, at least in certain regions of the brain, there is no communication. If there is no communication, a brain death diagnosis becomes a very likely scenario.
Brain deaths can occur when the person is close enough to the hospital that medical staff are able to keep the heart beating and oxygen and nutrients flowing to the body cells, even though there is no brain activity. As stated before, this is usually done before it can be determined whether brain activity has ceased. Once that takes place, there is very little likelihood of a recovery. However, the decision to take a person of life support machines is usually left up to the family after they consult with the doctor.
A brain death can occur from many different factors, but oxygen is a key to all of it. Though they may not be related at all, they may cause similar things to happen in the brain. For example, different forms of trauma can cause bleeding and swelling in the brain. This could cause the brain to cease functioning. If the brain does not get enough oxygen, a condition known as anoxia, it will begin to die as well. In an indirect way, anoxia is responsible for all brain deaths. For example, in cases where the brain swells, intercranial pressure may cause blood flow to be cut off, resulting in a condition where oxygen can no longer reach the brain.