Coma

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A coma is a state of prolonged unconsciousness that can be caused by a variety of problems — traumatic head injury, stroke, brain tumor, drug or alcohol intoxication, or even an underlying illness, such as diabetes or an infection.

A coma is a medical emergency. Swift action is needed to preserve life and brain function. Doctors normally order a battery of blood tests and a brain CT scan to try to determine what’s causing the coma so that proper treatment can begin.

A coma seldom lasts longer than several weeks. People who are unconscious for a longer period of time may transition to a persistent vegetative state.

Depending on the cause of a coma, people who are in a persistent vegetative state for more than one year are extremely unlikely to awaken.

The signs and symptoms of a coma commonly include:

A coma is a medical emergency. Seek immediate medical care.

Many types of problems can cause coma. Some examples are:

Although many people gradually recover from a coma, others enter a vegetative state or die. Some people who recover from a coma may have major or minor disabilities.

Complications may develop during a coma, including pressure sores, bladder infections, blood clots in the legs and other problems.

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Coma

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