Hesperian Health Guides
Loss of Consciousness
Every day 20,000 people visit the HealthWiki for lifesaving health information. A gift of just $5 helps make this possible!
Make a gift to support this essential health information people depend on.
Common causes of loss of consciousness are:
- hit on the head
- heart attack
- blood sugar too low
- heat stroke
- too much alcohol or drugs, or medicine
If a person is unconscious and you do not know why, immediately check each of the following:
- Is he breathing well? If not, tilt his head way back and pull the jaw and tongue forward. If something is stuck in his throat, pull it out. If he is not breathing, use rescue breathing at once.
- Is he losing a lot of blood? If so, try to stop the bleeding.
- Is he in shock (moist, pale skin; weak, rapid pulse)? If so, lay him with his head lower than his feet and loosen his clothing.
- Could it be heat stroke (no sweat, high fever, hot, red skin)? If so, shade him from the sun, keep his head higher than his feet, and soak him with cold water (ice water if possible) and fan him.
How to position an unconscious person:
|very pale skin:
(shock, fainting, etc.)
|red or normal skin:|
(heat stroke, stroke, heart problems, head injury)
If the unconscious person might have a neck or back injury:
It is best not to move him until he becomes conscious. If you have to, move him, do so with great care, because if his neck or back is broken, any change of position may cause greater injury. Look for wounds or broken bones, but move the person as little as possible. Do not bend his back or neck.
Never give anything by mouth to a person who is unconscious.