Unconsciousness is defined as a state of unawareness or an inability to respond as a result of reduced brain stem activity.
There are many causes of unconsciousness, or loss of consciousness. It can be caused by illness or by injury. It can also be the result of excessive alcohol or drug use. Other causes include low blood sugar levels and fainting.
The signs and symptoms of unconsciousness include:
Diagnosis of unconsciousness is made when a person will not awaken with gentle rousing. An individual who is unconscious will not be able to cough and may have difficulty breathing. The person will not be able to open his or her eyes and doesn't respond to stimuli such as touch or pain.
Prevention of unconsciousness focuses on treatment of the underlying problems. Control of blood sugar is required if someone has diabetes. An individual with diabetes should wear an identification bracelet to alert others in case he or she loses consciousness. Excessive alcohol and illegal drugs should be avoided.
First aid is the treatment that is usually provided when someone is unconscious.
Rolling a person with a spinal cord injury can worsen the damage. Therefore, it is important to move the victim only as needed to assist with breathing.
The emergency medical system should be contacted immediately, and the person will be transported to the emergency department for care.
Author:James Broomfield, MD
Editor:Ballenberg, Sally, BS
Reviewer:Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN