BACK TOTOP Browse A-ZSearchBrowse A-ZABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ0-9 E-mail FormEmail ResultsName:Email address:Recipients Name:Recipients address:Message: Print-FriendlyBookmarksbookmarks-menuUnconsciousness - first aidLoss of consciousness - first aid; Coma - first aid; Mental status change; Altered mental status; Syncope - first aid; Faint - first aid Unconsciousness is when a person is unable to respond to people and activities. Doctors often call this a coma or being in a comatose state.ComaDecreased alertness is the most severe state of reduced awareness and is a serious condition. A coma is a state of decreased alertness from which a p...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Other changes in awareness can occur without becoming unconscious. These are called altered mental status or changed mental status. They include sudden confusion, disorientation, or stupor.Unconsciousness or any other sudden change in mental status must be treated as a medical emergency. Causes Unconsciousness can be caused by nearly any major illness or injury. It can also be caused by substance (drug) and alcohol use. Choking on an object can result in unconsciousness as well. Choking on an object can result in unco...Choking is when someone cannot breathe because food, a toy, or other object is blocking the throat or windpipe (airway). A choking person's airway ma...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Brief unconsciousness (or fainting) is often a result from dehydration, low blood sugar, or temporary low blood pressure. It can also be caused by serious heart or nervous system problems. A doctor will determine if the affected person needs tests.FaintingFainting is a brief loss of consciousness due to a drop in blood flow to the brain. The episode most often lasts less than a couple of minutes and y...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Low blood sugarLow blood sugar is a condition that occurs when the body's blood sugar (glucose) decreases and is too low. Blood sugar below 70 mg/dL (3. 9 mmol/L) i...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Other causes of fainting include straining during a bowel movement (vasovagal syncope), coughing very hard, or breathing very fast (hyperventilating). Symptoms The person will be unresponsive (does not respond to activity, touch, sound, or other stimulation).The following symptoms may occur after a person has been unconscious:Amnesia for (not remembering) events before, during, and even after the period of unconsciousness Confusion Drowsiness DrowsinessDrowsiness refers to feeling more sleepy than normal during the day. People who are drowsy may fall asleep in when they do not want to or at times w...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Headache Inability to speak or move parts of the body (stroke symptoms) StrokeA stroke occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain stops. A stroke is sometimes called a "brain attack. " If blood flow is cut off for longer th...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Lightheadedness Loss of bowel or bladder control (incontinence) Rapid heartbeat (palpitations) PalpitationsPalpitations are feelings or sensations that your heart is pounding or racing. They can be felt in your chest, throat, or neck. You may:Have an unpl...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Slow heartbeat Stupor (severe confusion and weakness)StuporDecreased alertness is the most severe state of reduced awareness and is a serious condition. A coma is a state of decreased alertness from which a p...Read Article Now Book Mark Article If the person is unconscious from choking, symptoms may include:Inability to speak Difficulty breathing Noisy breathing or high-pitched sounds while inhaling Weak, ineffective coughing Bluish skin colorBeing asleep is not the same as being unconscious. A sleeping person will respond to loud noises or gentle shaking. An unconscious person will not. First Aid If someone is awake but less alert than usual, ask a few simple questions, such as:What is your name? What is the date? How old are you?Wrong answers or not being able to answer the question suggest a change in mental status.If a person is unconscious or has a change in mental status, follow these first aid steps:Call or tell someone to call 911 or the local emergency number. Check the person's airway, breathing, and pulse frequently. If necessary, begin CPR. CPRCPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It is a lifesaving procedure that is done when someone's breathing or heartbeat has stopped. This may...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article If the person is breathing and lying on their back, and you do not think there is a spinal injury, carefully roll the person toward you onto their side. Bend the top leg so both hip and knee are at right angles. Gently tilt their head back to keep the airway open. If breathing or pulse stops at any time, roll the person onto their back and begin CPR. Spinal injuryThe spinal cord contains the nerves that carry messages between your brain and the rest of the body. The cord passes through your neck and back. A ...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article If you think there is a spinal injury, leave the person where you found them (as long as breathing continues). If the person vomits, roll the entire body at one time to their side. Support their neck and back to keep the head and body in the same position while you roll. Keep the person warm until medical help arrives. If you see a person fainting, try to prevent a fall. Lay the person flat on the floor and raise their feet about 12 inches (30 centimeters). If fainting is likely due to low blood sugar, give the person something sweet to eat or drink only when they become conscious.Low blood sugarLow blood sugar is a condition that occurs when the body's blood sugar (glucose) decreases and is too low. Blood sugar below 70 mg/dL (3. 9 mmol/L) i...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article If the person is unconscious from choking:Begin CPR. Chest compressions may help dislodge the object. CPRCPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It is a lifesaving procedure that is done when someone's breathing or heartbeat has stopped. This may...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article If you see something blocking the airway and it is loose, try to remove it. If the object is lodged in the person's throat, DO NOT try to grasp it. This can push the object farther into the airway. Continue CPR and keep checking to see if the object is dislodged until medical help arrives. Do Not DO NOT give an unconscious person any food or drink. DO NOT leave the person alone. DO NOT place a pillow under the head of an unconscious person. DO NOT slap an unconscious person's face or splash water on their face to try to revive them. When to Contact a Medical Professional Call 911 or the local emergency number if the person is unconscious and:Does not return to consciousness quickly (within a minute) Has fallen down or been injured, especially if they are bleeding Has diabetes Has seizures Has lost bowel or bladder control Is not breathing Is pregnant Is over age 50Call 911 or the local emergency number if the person regains consciousness, but:Feels chest pain, pressure, or discomfort, or has a pounding or irregular heartbeat Cannot speak, has vision problems, or cannot move their arms and legs Prevention To prevent becoming unconscious or fainting:Avoid situations where your blood sugar level gets too low. Blood sugar levelA blood sugar test measures the amount of a sugar called glucose in a sample of your blood. Glucose is a major source of energy for most cells of the...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Avoid standing in one place too long without moving, especially if you are prone to fainting. Get enough fluid, particularly in warm weather. If you feel like you are about to faint, lie down or sit with your head bent forward between your knees.If you have a medical condition, such as diabetes, always wear a medical alert necklace or bracelet.DiabetesDiabetes is a long-term (chronic) disease in which the body cannot regulate the amount of sugar in the blood.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Open ReferencesReferencesAmerican Red Cross. First Aid/CPR/AED Participant's Manual. 2nd ed. Dallas, TX: American Red Cross; 2016.Crocco TJ, Meurer WJ. Stroke. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 91.De Lorenzo RA. Syncope. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 12.Kleinman ME, Goldberger ZD, Rea T, et al. 2017 American Heart Association focused update on adult basic life support and cardiopulmonary resuscitation quality: an update to the American Heart Association Guidelines for cardiopulmonary resuscitation and emergency cardiovascular care. Circulation. 2018;137(1):e7-e13. PMID: 29114008 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29114008/.Lei C, Smith C. Depressed consciousness and coma. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 13.AllVideoImagesTogRecovery position - seriesPresentation Recovery position - seriesPresentation Related Information Concussion in adults - what to ask your doctor(Doctor Questions)Concussion in children - what to ask your doctor(Doctor Questions)Concussion in children - discharge(Discharge)Concussion in adults - discharge(Discharge)Preventing head injuries in children(Self-Care) Review Date: 2/12/2021 Reviewed By: Jesse Borke, MD, CPE, FAAEM, FACEP, Attending Physician at Kaiser Permanente, Orange County, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. 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