Coma Risk Factors, Prevention, Symptoms And Treatment


A prolonged loss of consciousness is known as a coma. It can be caused by a number of things, such as a brain tumor, stroke, severe head injury, or drug or alcohol abuse. Even underlying conditions like diabetes or infection can result in comas.

A medical emergency is a coma. In order to protect life and brain function, quick intervention is required. In order to determine the exact cause of the patient's coma and to start the appropriate course of therapy, medical professionals frequently request a battery of blood tests and a brain scan.

A few weeks is how long a coma typically lasts. Longer periods of unconsciousness can cause a person to enter a persistent vegetative state, often known as brain death.

A coma is a state of unconsciousness from which a person cannot be roused.

Damage to the brain from a serious head injury or stroke may be the reason. 

A severe alcohol overdose or an encephalitis infection of the brain can also result in a coma.

If their blood glucose levels unexpectedly drop or shoot up, people with diabetes might go into a coma (hypoglycaemia or hyperglycaemia).

If you have a friend or loved one who is unconscious or in a coma, you might find the following information helpful. A person who is unconscious and showing little brain activity is said to be in a coma. They cannot be woken, even if they are awake and cognizant.

The subject will have closed eyelids. and they will seem to be unconcerned with their surroundings. They will not often be able to talk or move voluntarily, respond to sound or discomfort, or even perform simple reflexes like coughing and swallowing. Although some people need a machine to assist them breathe, they might be able to breathe on their own in other cases.

The individual could eventually begin to gradually regain awareness and become more cognizant. After a few weeks, some people will start to feel better, while others may enter a vegetative or barely aware state. 


A coma can be brought on by several issues. Several instances are:

Head trauma. These are frequently brought on by accidents or violent crimes.

Stroke. A clogged artery or a burst blood vessel can cause a reduced or interrupted blood flow to the brain, known as a stroke.

Tumours. A coma can be brought on by brain or brainstem tumours.

Diabetes. A coma can be brought on by blood sugar levels that are either high or too low.

Insufficient oxygen. Due to a lack of oxygen getting to the brain, people who have been saved from drowning or recovered after a heart attack could not awaken.

Infections. Swelling of the brain, spinal cord, or surrounding tissues is a result of infections including encephalitis and meningitis. These infections can cause comas or brain damage.

Seizures. Continuous seizures may result in a coma.

Toxins. Toxin exposure, such as exposure to carbon monoxide or lead, can result in comas and brain damage.

Drinking and drug use. Alcohol or drug overdose can put a person in a coma.

When to visit a doctor

A medical emergency is a coma. The coma patient has to be treated right away.

Risk Factors

  • An ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke
  • A serious brain damage
  • Seizures
  • Brain cancer
  • Infected brains
  • Hypoxia
  • Metabolic problems, such as hypoglycemia and diabetic hyperosmolar coma
  • Toxins include poisons, alcohol, and other drugs (cocaine, barbiturates, sedatives)
  • Failure of the liver or kidney


Coma signs and symptoms frequently include:

  • Closed eyes.
  • Reduced brainstem reflexes, including pupils that do not react to light.
  • No limb reactions other than reflexive motions.
  • No reaction to painful stimuli except reflex actions.
  • Abnormal breathing.


While many coma survivors progressively regain consciousness, some either pass away or go into a chronic vegetative condition. Some persons who come out of comas have significant or mild problems. Infections in the urinary system, blood clots in the legs, bedsores, and other issues might appear while a person is in a coma.


A medical emergency is a coma. First, medical professionals usually assess the patient's airway and assist with maintaining breathing and circulation. In addition to various forms of supportive care, providers may provide medications intravenously and aid with breathing.

The course of treatment depends on what caused the coma. It may be necessary to have surgery or take medication to reduce pressure on the brain caused by brain swelling. Through an arm vein, first responders could provide antibiotics or glucose. In situations of extremely low blood sugar or a brain infection, these may be administered even before the results of blood tests are known.

In the event that a drug overdose caused the coma, medical professionals often administer medication to address the condition. Medication can suppress seizures if the coma is caused by them. Other therapies or medications may be used to treat an underlying illness, such as diabetes or liver disease.

The individual in a coma may occasionally fully recover from its underlying cause and restore function. Recovery often happens over time. A person with serious brain injury may never recover consciousness or may have lifelong problems.

A coma often lasts a few weeks, during which time the patient may begin to gradually regain consciousness or transition into another type of unconsciousness known as a vegetative state or minimally conscious condition.

A minimally conscious state is one in which knowledge of one's surroundings or oneself is intermittent and occurs when a person is awake but not in a vegetative 


While some people may progressively recover from these conditions, others may not get well for years, if ever. 

When someone does emerge from a coma, it typically happens gradually. They might be quite angry and bewildered at first.

Some sufferers of comas will fully recover and have no lasting effects. Others will experience difficulties brought on by brain injury. They could require care for the rest of their life as well as physical treatment, occupational therapy, psychiatric testing, and support.

The chances of someone waking up from a coma are mostly influenced by the nature and extent of their brain damage, their age, and how long they have been unconscious. However, it is hard to correctly anticipate whether or not the patient will eventually recover, how long the coma will stay, and whether or not they will experience any long-term issues.

Complications of Coma

While many coma survivors gradually regain consciousness, some go into a chronic vegetative condition or pass afterwards. After coming out of a coma, some people suffer from severe or modest problems.

Bedsores, UTIs, blood clots in the legs, and other issues might appear when a person is in a coma.

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Page last reviewed: May 25, 2023

Next review due: May 25, 2025

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