Head Trauma or Coma
Head trauma or Coma
A coma is a condition of prolonged unconsciousness that can be caused by multiple problems like stroke, traumatic head injuries, brain tumor, drug or alcohol intoxication, or even any chronic underlying illness, such as infection or diabetes.
A coma is typically called a medical emergency. Quick action is needed to preserve the life and functions of the brain. Blood tests and a brain CT scan is done to determine what is the main cause of the coma so that proper treatment can start.
A coma lasts longer than several weeks. People who are unconscious for a longer period may develop a persistent vegetative state. People who are in a persistent vegetative state for more than a year but this depends on the cause. Such people are extremely unlikely to awaken.
The signs and symptoms that can show up in the state of coma commonly include:
- Closed eyes
- Depressed brainstem reflexes, for example, no response of pupils to light
- Only reflex movements in limbs
- Absence of response to painful stimuli
- Irregular breathing pattern
As told above many types of problems can cause a coma. More common causes of coma are:
- The main and most common cause of coma is traumatic brain injuries. Such injuries are caused by vehicle accidents, an act of violence, direct fall, are causes that cause coma.
- Stroke (insufficient or interrupted blood supply to the brain), can be caused by blocked arteries or a burst blood vessel also results in a coma.
- Tumors or cancer developed in the brain or brainstem can cause a coma, if not treated well.
- People with diabetes, ones whose blood sugar levels become too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia) can cause a coma, paralysis, or even death.
- Due to a lack of oxygen supply in some cases, people go into a coma. Situations like one who have been rescued from drowning or those who have been resuscitated after a heart attack can cause coma.
- Inflammatory Infections like encephalitis or meningitis that cause swelling in the brain, spinal cord, or the tissues surrounding the brain result in brain damage or a coma.
- Seizures may lead to a coma. Generally, ongoing.
- Inhalation or exposure to toxins, like carbon monoxide, zinc, or lead, can cause a coma.
- A high intake of drugs or alcohol can also result in a coma.
Doctors will first examine the affected person’s airway and help in maintaining respiration and circulation. Doctors give breathing assistance, blood transfusions, and other intensive care to the patient. A member of the healthcare team will administer glucose and antibiotics intravenously. Treatment varies from person to person and depends on the cause of the coma. A surgical procedure or medication will be needed to relieve pressure on the brain due to swelling in the brain.
If the coma is due to drug overdose, doctors will refer to medications to treat the condition. If the coma is because of seizures, doctors will recommend medications to control seizures. Other treatments may be recommended, also medications or therapies to diagnose and treat an underlying disease, such as diabetes or liver disease.
Sometimes the cause of a coma gets completely reversed and the affected person will start regaining normal function. But if the affected person has suffered severe brain damage or is in a coma for more than a year, the person may develop permanent disabilities or may never revive consciousness. The person will develop a persistent vegetative state or become brain dead.