Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors
Confusion is an abnormal mental condition or state of mind.A person who is confused has trouble understanding the environmentand may react or respond inappropriately to it.
What is going on in the body?
Confusion is often a sign of an underlying problem or illness.The causes range from mild to serious. Confusion may come on suddenlyor may occur gradually over time. Many causes of confusion are reversible.
What are the causes and risks of the symptom?
There are many possible causes of confusion, including:
There are many other causes of confusion. Sometimes, acause cannot be found.
Symptoms & Signs
What other signs and symptoms are associated with this symptom?
People who are confused may exhibit the following signs andsymptoms:
Other symptoms are often related to the cause of the confusion.
Diagnosis & Tests
How is the symptom diagnosed?
When someone is confused, the doctor will try to determine thecause. A medical history and physical exam is done first. In some cases,this may be all that is needed to figure out the cause. Further testing isoften needed, however.
Blood tests are commonly done to help check for salt orhormone imbalances, liver disease, and many other conditions. Urinetesting can help rule out an infection or kidney problem. A chest X-raycan be done to look for lung conditions, such as pneumonia.Other tests may be needed in some cases. For example, a cranial CT scancan be done to look for a stroke or brain tumor.
Prevention & Expectations
What can be done to prevent the symptom?
Prevention is related to the cause of the confusion. For example,avoiding certain drugs can prevent the confusion that can be caused bythem. Wearing a helmet when riding a bike or motorcycle and followingsports safety guidelines for children,adolescents,and adultscan help prevent head injuries. However, many causes cannot be prevented.
What are the long-term effects of the symptom?
Long-term effects are related to the cause of the confusion.For example, confusion caused by an infection often goes away oncethe person gets over the infection. An individual withcanceror chronic liver disease often dies from those conditions. In some people,confusion may get worse over time and become permanent, such as inAlzheimer disease,alcoholism,or AIDS.
What are the risks to others?
Confusion itself is not catching and poses no risk to others.If confusion is the result of an infection, the infection may be contagious.
Treatment & Monitoring
What are the treatments for the symptom?
Treatment is directed at the cause of the confusion.
What are the side effects of the treatments?
All medicines have possible side effects. For example,antibiotics may cause allergic reactionsor stomach upset. Surgery carries a risk of bleeding, infection, andallergic reactionto the anesthesia.
What happens after treatment for the symptom?
In many cases, confusion goes away when the cause is treated.In other cases, confusion may be a sign of more serious disease. Somecauses of confusion such as strokeand Alzheimer diseasemay cause permanent brain damage and problems with brain function.
How is the symptom monitored?
A confused person should not be left alone. Other monitoringdepends on the underlying cause. For example, those who have had astroke often need close monitoring in an intensive care unitfor awhile. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the doctor.
Article type: xmedgeneral