Inability to Think Clearly or Confusion

Head | Neurology | Inability to Think Clearly or Confusion (Symptom)


Confusion is a change in mental status in which a person is not able to think with his or her usual level of clarity. Frequently, confusion leads to the loss of ability to recognize people and or places, or tell time and the date. Feelings of disorientation are common in confusion, and decision-making ability is impaired.


Confusion may arise suddenly or develop gradually over time. Confusion has multiple causes, including injuries, medical conditions, medications, environmental factors, and substance abuse. Confusion may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition.

Confusion may accompany symptoms related to infection including: enlarged lymph nodes, fever, headache, malaise or lethargy, nausea with or without vomiting, neck stiffness or rigidity, rash, seizure, symptoms of chronic illnesses or metabolic disorders that may occur along with confusion.

Confusion may accompany symptoms related to chronic illnesses and metabolic disorders including: abdominal pain, abnormal heart rhythm such as rapid heart rate (tachycardia) or slow heart rate (bradycardia), ankle swelling, difficulty breathing or rapid breathing, dry skin or changes in skin color, fatigue, feeling very thirsty, frequent urination, or reduced or lack of urination, fruity breath, muscle weakness, nausea with or without vomiting.

In some cases, confusion may be a symptom of a life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting.


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