Confusion

Definition

Confusion is the inability to think as clearly or quickly as you normally do. You may feel disoriented and having difficulty paying attention, remembering, and making decisions.

See also: Dementia

Considerations

Confusion may come on quickly or slowly over time, depending on the cause. Many times, confusion is temporary. Other times it is permanent and not curable. It may be associated with delirium or dementia.

Confusion is more common in the elderly, and often occurs during a hospital stay.

Some confused people may have strange or unusual behavior or may act aggressively.

Causes

Home Care

A good way to find out if someone is confused is to ask the person his or her name, age, and the date. If they are unsure or answer incorrectly, they are confused.

For sudden confusion due to low blood sugar (for example, from diabetes medication), the person should drink a sweet drink or eat a sweet snack. If the confusion lasts longer than 10 minutes, call the doctor.

A confused person should not be left alone. For safety, the person may need physical restraints.

To help a confused person:

For sudden confusion due to low blood sugar (for example, from diabetes medication), the person should drink a sweet drink or eat a sweet snack. If the confusion lasts longer than 10 minutes, call the doctor.

See also: Dementia - home care

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call 911 if:

If you have been experiencing confusion, call for an appointment with your doctor.

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

The doctor will do a physical examination and ask questions such as:

Tests may include:

Prevention


Review Date: 2/16/2012
Reviewed By: Luc Jasmin, MD, PhD, Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, and Department of Anatomy at UCSF, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

This information should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. © 1997- 2007 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.