What is a coma?
A person is in a coma when they remain unconscious and unresponsive for a prolonged period of time. The person isn’t dead. They look just like they are sleeping. However, they can’t be awakened up even by pain.
What causes a coma?
- Comas are often caused by brain damage which could result from bleeding, increased pressure, oxygen loss, or toxic buildups. The damage can be either temporary or permanent. Common problems that can result in a coma include:
- Head injuries. Trauma to the head can lead to swelling and bleeding in the brain, damaging the area in charge of arousal and awareness.
- Swelling can happen without physical injuries. It may be caused by asphyxia, electrolyte imbalance, or hormones.
- Bleeding in the brain may be a complication of high blood pressure, cerebral aneurysms, and tumors.
- The lack of blood supply or blood loss with swelling may result in a coma.
- Blood sugar. Diabetic people may fall into a coma if their blood sugar levels are too high. The same can happen with too low blood sugar levels.
- Oxygen deprivation, infection, seizures, and toxins.
What are the signs and symptoms of a coma?
- Closed eyes
- Depressed brainstem reflexes, such as pupils not responding to light
- Limp unresponsiveness,beside reflex movements
- Unesponsivenessto pain, except for reflex movements
What are the treatment options for coma?
It’s important to figure out the cause of coma. Doctors will evaluate the patient’s condition to determine if there is a risk to life. If there is an infection, the buildup fluid may be drained for further examination. Electroencephalogram (EEG) may be necessary for a conclusive diagnosis.
The first course of action is to ensure the patient has a sufficient oxygen supply and stable pulse and blood pressure. Glucose and saline may be administered intravenously. If the person suffers from seizures, then medication to control seizures will be prescribed. If there is an increasing pressure in the brain, doctors will administer drugs to release the pressure such as medications used to raise the urine output and steroids. As the doctors figure out the cause of coma, appropriate treatments will be offered.
The chance of recovery greatly depends on the cause of coma. While comas caused by diabetes can be treated, comas caused by genetic metabolic disorders may not improve. The extent of brain damage leading to coma is also a key factor. Severe brain damage lessens one’s likelihood of recovery from a coma.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: October 16, 2017 | Last Modified: September 11, 2019