Coma

WHAT IS A COMA?

A coma is a profound, or deep, state of unconsciousness. A person in a coma is alive but is not able to respond to life around him or her.

WHAT CAUSES A COMA?

A coma may occur because of:

  • An expected progression or complication of an underlying illness.

  • Head trauma with bleeding or swelling, or both, of the brain.

  • Brain injury from bleeding or swelling, or both, caused by something that is not an injury. This can happen if a weak blood vessel or an aneurysm bursts in the brain.

  • A brain tumor, which can cause damage that can lead to bleeding or swelling, or both.

  • Lack of oxygen to the brain. This could occur because of:

  • Severe pneumonia.

  • Severe emphysema.

  • Severe anemia.

  • A drowning incident.

  • Low blood sugar that is severe.

  • Poisoning or overdose from prescription or over-the-counter medicines.

  • Toxic effects of alcohol.

  • Toxic effects from the buildup of waste products in the blood as a result of kidney or liver failure.

WHAT ARE TREATMENT OPTIONS?

Once the person is out of immediate danger, the medical team will concentrate on preventing infections and maintaining his or her physical state as much as possible. Such maintenance includes:

  • Preventing pneumonia.

  • Preventing pressure ulcers.

  • Providing balanced nutrition.

  • Preventing permanent muscular contractions (contractures).

  • Preventing bone and joint deformities.