Healthy people, healthy planet

First Aid for Unconsciousness

Someone who is unconscious is not sleeping. Rather, an unconscious person is hard to rouse or
can’t be made aware of his or her surroundings. Unconsciousness is caused by illness, injury or
emotional shock.

Signs and Symptoms

There are many levels of unconsciousness. Some are more serious than others. Levels include unconscious episodes that are:

  • Brief. Examples are fainting or blacking out.
  • Longer. The victim is incoherent when roused.
  • Prolonged. A person in a coma, for example, can be motionless and not at all aware of his or her
    surroundings for a very long time.

Causes of Unconsciousness

  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Hypothermia (low body temperature usually caused by over-exposure to cold temperatures or
    cold water)
  • Stroke
  • Shock
  • Epilepsy
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Diabetic coma
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Drug overdose
  • Poisoning
  • Head injury/concussion
  • Low blood sugar
  • Too fast, too slow and/or irregular heartbeats
  • Heart attack
  • Medications
  • Hypothermia (very low body temperature)
  • Heart valve disease

Look for a medic alert information if you find a person unconscious. It could be on a bracelet or a neck chain. It could be in his or her wallet on a card or on a sticker on the back of his or her driver’s license. Each of these can identify the person’s medical condition.

Avatar Written by American Institute for Preventive Medicine