A coma is a deep state of unconsciousness that may result after head trauma or an underlying health condition. In most cases, a coma lasts no longer than four weeks. However, depending on the cause, a coma may lead to permanent brain damage and death. At Hospice and Palliative Care of California in Pasadena, California, Sabri Malek, MD, FIPP, and the compassionate team provide hospice care for comatose patients. To learn more about treatment options for someone who is in a coma, contact the office by phone or online today.

Coma Q&A

What is a coma?

A coma is a state of unconsciousness that lasts a long period of time. It’s a serious health condition that requires immediate medical attention to identify and treat the cause of the change in consciousness in order to prevent permanent brain damage.

In most cases, comas rarely last longer than 2-4 weeks. However, the longer a person remains unconscious, the greater the risk of brain damage that leads to a vegetative state or death. When a person is in a vegetative state, they may show signs of arousal without awareness.

What causes a coma?

Many conditions and injuries may lead to a coma. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Head injury
  • Drug or alcohol overdose
  • Seizures
  • Stroke
  • Tumors
  • Infections
  • Lack of oxygen to the brain
  • Exposure to toxic substances

Diabetes may also cause a coma if blood sugars are too high or too low.

In most cases, people recover from being in a coma but may experience mild-to-moderate disabilities. It’s also possible to develop other health complications while unconscious, such as blood clots, bed sores, or infections.

How is a coma treated?

Treatment for a coma may depend on the underlying cause and may involve various procedures to reduce pressure on the brain or medication to treat the underlying health issue responsible for the unconscious state.

Nutrition support and intravenous (IV) fluid may also be provided, as well as various therapies to prevent health complications.

When is hospice care appropriate for a coma patient?

The team at Hospice and Palliative Care of California specializes in the supportive care of coma patients. Hospice care may be appropriate for coma patients who are in a vegetative state.

Treatment is personalized based on each patient’s specific health needs and wishes. The options may include:

  • Pain management
  • IV fluids
  • Nutrition support
  • Ongoing nursing care

The team also provides regular assessments to monitor brain function for improvements or deterioration. The team reviews the changes with the patient’s family and adjusts treatment as needed to continue to provide comfort and supportive care.

Call Hospice and Palliative Care of California or use the online booking tool to schedule a consultation to discuss treatment for your loved one.


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