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SpecialtyEmergency medicine

Obtundation is mild to moderate alertness reduction (altered level of consciousness) with decreased interest in the environment and slower than normal reactivity to stimulation.[1] It is distinguished from the much stronger states of unresponsiveness of stupor and coma. Obtundation typically occurs as a result of a medical condition or trauma.[2]

There is a huge range of potential causes including head injury, interruption of blood circulation, impaired oxygenation or carbon dioxide toxicity (hypercapnia), central nervous system (CNS) infections, drug intoxication or withdrawal, post-seizure state, hypothermia, and metabolic derangements such as hypoglycemia, hyponatremia, and hypercalcaemic crisis.[3]

Symptoms include delayed reaction time, lessened interest in the environment, very short attention span, and excessive sleeping.[4][5]

The root word, obtund, means "dulled or less sharp" (cf. obtuse angle).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/obtundation
  2. ^ Panayiotopoulos, C. P. (2010). A Clinical Guide to Epileptic Syndromes and their Treatment. Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 76–77. ISBN 9781846286445. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  3. ^ In Wells, B. G.; in DiPiro, J. T.; in Schwinghammer, T. L.; in DiPiro, C. V. (2017). Pharmacotherapy handbook.
  4. ^ "Obtundation - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics". www.sciencedirect.com. Retrieved 2022-03-26.
  5. ^ "The Difference Between Lethargy, Obtundation, Stupor, and Coma | Time of Care". 2017-11-29. Retrieved 2022-03-26.

External links[edit]

  • The dictionary definition of obtundation at Wiktionary