What Happens To Your Body When You Are Strangled To Death

We've all seen a person being strangled at one point in movies and television shows, but what does it feel like, and what happens to the body? Strangulation is when a strong force is placed on the neck to restrict airflow to the lungs and blood to the brain. There are two types of strangulation: manual and ligature. Manual strangulation is done with the use of hands or other body parts, such as forearms or knees, while ligature strangulation makes use of an item — such as a belt or rope — to apply pressure to the throat (via Encyclopedia of Forensic Sciences). Both of these types may result in death.

A person instantly loses the ability to breathe properly when being strangled. The lack of oxygen to the brain can cause unconsciousness within seconds, and death can occur in less than five minutes, per Domestic Shelters. Although five minutes seems like a short time, it is torturously long when you are being strangled to death.

The body's response to strangulation

The time it takes to be strangled to death is pure torture for the victim. With the lack of blood and oxygen flow, the head feels like it's about to explode with pressure. The loss of bladder and bowel control is also possible in less than a minute of being strangled, per Metro Nashville Office of Family Safety. When pressure is applied to the carotid arteries — the major arteries that supply blood to the brain — death may come quickly.

Panic is one of the most common responses to being strangled. With the lack of oxygen, signals are sent to the brain to remove the source of pain or jump into defense. A panic attack is expected soon after. Some physical signs of the strangulation include bloodshot eyes, ringing in the ears, and bruising on the neck area, as reported by Prince Edward Island Family Violence Prevention Services. Strangulation also causes internal injuries, and there have been instances where victims survive strangulation only to die days or weeks later due to internal damage to the body (via Domestic Shelters).