What are the treatments for the condition?
Basic vital functions, such as breathing and blood pressure, are maintained when possible. A person may need a ventilator, or artificial breathing machine, and medications to maintain blood circulation. Oxygen, fluids given through a tube in a vein, which is called an IV, and close monitoring of the person are done routinely. Further treatment is directed at the cause, if known. When the cause is not known, certain treatments may be give right away in the hope that they may work. For example, glucose, a form of sugar, may be given through an IV in case the person has low blood sugar. Naloxone, a drug that can reverse a heroin overdose, may be given in case this is the cause.
Once the initial tests are back, the cause can often be discovered and more specific treatment can be given. For example, those with a subdural hematoma may need surgery. Those with an infection may need antibiotics.
What are the side effects of the treatments?
Side effects depend on the treatments used. All medications have possible side effects. For example, antibiotics may cause allergic reactions or stomach upset. Surgery carries a risk of bleeding or infection. Ventilators may sometimes cause lung damage or an infection.
What happens after treatment for the condition?
A person who recovers completely may soon return to normal activities. Others may not survive even with the best treatment. A person who does survive may be left with permanent disabilities that require skilled nursing care for life. Further treatment may be ongoing for the condition that caused the coma, such as diabetes.
How is the condition monitored?
A person with coma is often monitored closely in the intensive care unit. Specific monitoring often depends on the cause. For example, those with salt imbalances may need repeated blood tests until the salt imbalance is corrected.