Posted: February 1st, 2023

Levels of consciousness discussion paper

The level of consciousness help to diagnose an individual’s alertness and awareness of the environment. The reliable medical terminology is defining the individual’s level of consciousness aids in establishing a communication link between the medical experts, especially in case of fluctuations in the level of consciousness. There are several kinds of medical conditions and drugs that lead to a level of an individual’s consciousness.

In some cases, damages to consciousness are reversed, and in some cases, it becomes impossible. The significant disorders related to the level of consciousness are vegetative state (it is stated when the individual is awake but does not show any mark of awareness, here the person open their eyes, awake and sleep at irregular intervals, only possess basic reflex), coma (in this state the person has no sign of being aware, and no sign of being awake) and minimally conscious state ( in this case, the individual shows very less or unpredictable awareness).

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Changed or varying levels of consciousness define a condition where an individual has a low cognitive function or cannot be awakened. Medical conditions often have specific impacts on the brain and subsequently affect the consciousness in case of severe illness or become life-threatening. An altered level of consciousness mainly occurs due to critical medical illness. However, an altered level of consciousness may worsen rapidly from one step to another. Hence, immediate medical assistance is essential.

Confusion: It defines disorientation, which makes the treatment and diagnosis of medical history difficult. This happens due to fever, alcohol intoxication, sleep deprivation, medications, postictal state, and using recreational drugs.

Stupor: It is a kind of defective consciousness where the individual responds to vigorous alertness, like shining a light in the eyes or pinching the toe. This may happen due to drug overdose, brain edema, stroke, lack of oxygen, and myocardial infarction.

Delirium: It is a word used to define a critical confusional condition. This occurs because of impaired cognition. Symptoms for delirium include a change in the sleep-wake cycle, hypoactivity, hallucinations, hyperactivity or delusion, unstable blood pressure, and heart rate. This can happen due to recreational drugs, organ failure, alcohol withdrawal, severe infections, medications, and illness.

Lethargy and somnolence: Lethargy and somnolence define extreme drowsiness, lethargy along with low alertness and listlessness. In lethargic patients, a gentle touch and verbal stimulation are essential to start their response. This happens due to recreational drugs, severe infections, or illness, and organ failure.

Coma: It is a condition of complete unresponsiveness to any stimuli. An individual with a coma has an absence of gag reflex or pupillary stimuli. It occurs due to reduced brain functioning, primarily due to severe blood loss, brain damage, or organ failure.

Obtundation – Obtundation is a decrease in stimuli and the sluggish response to alertness, needs frequent stimulations to regulate attention, and has more extended sleep timings, feeling drowsiness amid these periods. This occurs due to stroke, sepsis, poisoning, brain edema, and advanced organ failure.

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