Loss of Consciousness Symptoms

  • Symptoms

    The symptoms of ALC are varied. Initial signs of ALC can be as subtle as slurring words while talking, or as severe as death. ALC can present as any of the levels of consciousness, from confusion to stupor to coma.

    Symptoms accompanying ALC provide clues to the underlying cause Table 01. For example, if a person with ALC also has a tongue that is bitten or scarred, a doctor would suspect that epilepsy is the underlying cause. Likewise, if the person with ALC also has neck stiffness, the doctor may suspect that meningitis is the cause.

    Table 1.  Possible Causes of ALC by Accompanying Symptom or Sign

    System or region Symptom Possible cause(s)
    Vital signs Hypertension Cerebral hemorrhage, hypertensive encephalopathy, increased intracranial pressure, renal or endocrine disorder
    Hypotension Ethanol or sedative drug toxicity, blood loss, diabetic coma
    Hyperthermia Systemic infection, heat stroke, withdrawal from alcohol or drugs
    Hypothermia Ethanol or barbiturate toxicity, shock, extracellular fluid deficit
    Bradycardia Heart block, Stokes-Adams syndrome, increased intracranial pressure, hypothyroidism
    Tachycardia Arrhythmia associated hypoxemia; atrial fibrillation associated with cerebral embolism
    Breath Peculiar odor Alcohol ingestion, hepatic failure, ketoacidosis, or uremia
    Skin Jaundice Hepatic disorder
    Needle-tracks Drug overdose
    Rashes Infectious disease, drug reaction, autoimmune disease, pellagra, thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura
    Pallor Hemorrhage (internal or external)
    Head Localized tenderness, hematoma, crepitus Skull fracture
    Hemorrhage from ears or nostrils; hematoma, tenderness, or crepitus over mastoid process Basilar skull fracture
    Face and conjunctiva hyperemic Alcohol intoxication
    Tongue bitten or scarred Epilepsy
    Neck Stiffness Suggests meningitis/encephalitis, trauma, or subarachnoid hemorrhage
  • Risk Factors

    Certain causes of ALC are more common in particular groups of individuals. Traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of death and disability in those under 45 years of age, while metabolic problems, which can also cause ALC, occur most often in middle-aged and older people.

Recommended Reading

Meet the Pharmacists

I'm Beth Isaac, PharmD. Welcome to PDR Health!

Check out my latest post on cholesterol drugs.

Loss of Consciousness Related Drugs

    Loss of Consciousness Related Conditions