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After death, how long does it take for a body to decompose?

This can be regarded as a very interesting topic of discussion among a lot of people from the medical field. The process of human decomposition is very intricate and sometimes we might ask the question, “how long does it take for a body to decompose completely?”. Here, we will be looking at this process in detail. Thereafter, we will also take a look at the timeline of this process. So, without further delay, let’s see what happens to the body after death and how much time does it take to decompose completely.


Stages of Human Decomposition


In order to proceed with the topic, “how long does it take for a body to decompose“, a brief overview regarding the decomposition process can be considered necessary. This entire process can be divided into different stages or phases. This can be regarded as a natural process which involves the breakdown of tissues after death. The decomposition rate varies due to several factors. These include weather, temperature, moisture, pH and oxygen levels, cause of death, and body position. But irrespective of these factors, all human bodies follow the same four stages of human decomposition.


  1.  Autolysis


This is the first stage of human decomposition and it begins immediately after death. In this stage, excess carbon dioxide causes an acidic environment. Because of this change in pH, the membranes in cells begin to rupture. These ruptured membranes release enzymes which begin eating the cells from the inside out.


  1. Bloat 


This is the second stage of the human decomposition process. Here, the leaked enzymes begin producing many gasses. Due to production of these gasses, the human body can double in size. This in turn gives it a bloated look.


  1. Active Decay


In this stage, fluids are released through the orifices. Here, organs, muscles, and skin become liquefied. Once this stage becomes completed, hair, bones, cartilage, and other byproducts of decay will remain.


  1. Skeletonization


The skeleton has its own decomposition rate. Hence, there is no particular time frame for this stage.


Body decomposition timeline


Here, we will be discussing the answer to the question, “how long does it take for a body to decompose”. This timeline can also be divided into different stages.


  1. Decomposition of the internal organs occurs 24-72 hours after death.


  1. About 3-5 days after death, the body will start to bloat. During this phase, blood-containing foam will leak from the mouth and nose.


  1. Thereafter, about 8-10 days after death the body will turn from green to red. This occurs because the blood decomposes and the organs present in the abdomen start accumulating gasses.


  1. The nails and teeth fall several weeks after the death.


  1. Finally, about 1 month after death, the body will start to liquify.




From the above discussion, the answer to the question, “how long does it take for a body to decompose? ” is quite evident.  It can be said that the process involved in the decomposition of a body is very complex and occurs through various stages.. Each of these stages takes a particular amount of time to complete. Here, we have discussed the different stages of human decomposition in detail. The whole process of this decomposition can be divided into four stages and each stage has its own significance as well as duration. Each one of these stages have been discussed in detail here. Thereafter, we have looked at the timeline of the human decomposition. Thus, this can be considered as the required answer to the given question. Again, the given timeline applies for general cases. Sometimes, the duration as well as the process might be altered by different external factors.



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