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8 diseases and conditions that can lead to coma, and how to recognize it


Source: Life hacker

If a person has spent more than a year in this state, he has practically no chance to wake up, writes Lifehacker.

Photo: Shutterstock

What is a coma and what are its symptoms

From ancient Greek the word "coma" is translated as "deep sleep." Outwardly, this prolonged unconscious state really looks like a dream. However, there are significant differences.

Here are the main symptoms of coma:

  • Closed eyes.
  • The impossibility of awakening - a person does not react if you slow him down, call him by name.
  • Pupils do not respond to light. This is a sign of inhibition of reflexes of the brain stem.
  • There is no reaction to pain.
  • The limbs are motionless. Only reflex movements are present.
  • A person breathes, but hardly noticeably, irregularly, with long pauses between exhalation and inhalation.

When do you need to urgently call an ambulance? Is always! Coma refers to deadly emergency conditions: a person can die at any time. If you observe any of the above symptoms, call the emergency number immediately.

Because of what you can fall into a coma

The main cause of coma is serious damage to the brain, which critically affects its performance. They, in turn, can be caused by various reasons. Here are the most common ones.

  • Head injuries

Unsuccessful fall (for example, when cycling or skiing), accident, hit on the head - any of these situations can lead to a coma.

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The fact is that with trauma bleeding or edema occurs. Excess fluid in the stiff cranium increases pressure on the brain stem. As a result, departments responsible for consciousness may suffer.

  • Stroke

Acute cerebrovascular accident (stroke) along with traumatic brain injury is the cause of more than 50% of cases of coma.

A stroke can be caused by a blockage in the arteries or a rupture of a blood vessel, as a result of which part of the brain does not receive oxygen and nutrients and, as a result, begins to die.

  • Diabetes

With diabetes, the risk of spikes in blood sugar rises. Too high (hyperglycemia) or, conversely, low (hypoglycemia) glucose levels can lead to the so-called diabetic coma.

  • Acute oxygen deficiency

This factor also causes brain edema, as well as subsequent death of its cells. Therefore, it is possible to fall into a coma after drowning (even if the sinking was pulled out of the water and underwent cardiopulmonary resuscitation) or a heart attack (even if the heartbeat and blood supply to the brain were restored).

  • Инфекции

Infections such as encephalitis and meningitis can cause swelling of the brain, spinal cord, or surrounding tissues. In severe cases, this also leads to a coma.

  • Poisoning

If the body cannot or does not have time to utilize the toxins that are in it, this leads to brain poisoning and death of neurons, which also sometimes results in coma.

Such toxins can be carbon monoxide or lead, trapped in the body from the outside, as well as alcohol and drugs consumed in large quantities. Some diseases also lead to brain poisoning. For example, with liver diseases, toxic ammonia can accumulate in the body, with asthma - carbon dioxide, with kidney failure - urea.

  • Convulsions

One seizure rarely causes coma. But regular seizures - the so-called status epilepticus - can lead to critical brain damage and "deep sleep."

  • Tumors

It's about those neoplasms that develop in the brain or its trunk.

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How long have they been in a coma

It depends on how severe the brain damage is. Some cases of coma are reversible. For example, a diabetic option - to bring a person to life, it is enough to normalize blood sugar levels as soon as possible.

In general, a coma rarely lasts longer than a few weeks. People who remain unconscious for a longer period, most often go into a persistent vegetative state. This means that the body is alive and feeling good (there is no talk of a fatal outcome), but there is no higher mental activity - the person continues to remain unconscious.

People who are in a stable vegetative state for more than a year, practically lose their chances of awakening.

How to help a person in a coma

There is only one option: call emergency medical care as soon as possible. Further treatment is determined by doctors. It will depend on the causes of coma.

For example, antibiotics are given for infection. With edema or a tumor, they remove objects that are pressing on the brain surgically. With convulsions, medications are prescribed that reduce convulsive activity.

Sometimes such therapy helps quickly and a person regains consciousness within a few hours or days. And then over time it is fully restored.

But there are no guarantees. The victim may not leave the coma even after taking medication or surgery. In this case, it remains only to wait, and the treatment is to keep the body alive.

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