Treatments and drugsBy Mayo Clinic staff
Coma is a medical emergency. Doctors will first check the affected person's airway and help maintain breathing (respiration) and circulation. Doctors may give breathing assistance, blood transfusions and other supportive care.
Emergency personnel may administer glucose or antibiotics intravenously, even before blood test results return, in case of diabetic shock or an infection affecting the brain.
Treatment varies, depending on the cause of coma. A procedure or medications to relieve pressure on the brain due to brain swelling may be needed. If the coma is the result of drug overdose, doctors will give medications to treat the condition. If the coma is due to seizures, doctors will give medications to control seizures.
Other treatments may focus on medications or therapies to address an underlying disease, such as diabetes or liver disease.
Sometimes the cause of coma can be completely reversed and the affected person will regain normal function. But if the affected person has suffered severe brain damage, he or she may sustain permanent disabilities or may never regain consciousness. The person may enter a persistent vegetative state or brain death.
- Goldman L, et al. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/191371208-2/0/1492/0.html#. Accessed Aug. 24, 2012.
- Daroff RB, et al. Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4377-0434-1..C2009-0-40427-6--TOP&isbn=978-1-4377-0434-1&uniqId=364938937-2. Accessed Aug. 28, 2012.
- Young GB. Stupor and coma in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Aug. 24, 2012.
- Overview of coma and impaired consciousness. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/neurologic_disorders/coma_and_impaired_consciousness/overview_of_coma_and_impaired_consciousness.html?qt=coma&alt=sh. Accessed Aug. 24, 2012.
- Traumatic brain injury: Hope through research. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/tbi/tbi.htm. Accessed Aug. 27, 2012.
- NINDS cerebral hypoxia information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/anoxia/anoxia.htm. Accessed Aug. 27, 2012.
- Diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/stroke/index.aspx. Accessed Aug. 27, 2012.
- Meningitis and encephalitis fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/encephalitis_meningitis/encephalitis_meningitis.htm. Accessed Aug. 27, 2012.
- Stroke: Hope through research. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/stroke/stroke.htm. Accessed Aug. 27, 2012.
- Neurological diagnostic tests and procedures. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/misc/diagnostic_tests.htm. Accessed Aug. 27, 2012.