Mental Confusion

Head | - Others | Mental Confusion (Symptom)


The term mental confusion decreased activity of consciousness. There are various degrees ranging from mild drowsiness to stupor. Confusion, pathologically speaking, commonly refers to the loss of orientation (ability to correctly locate things as time, place and personal identity) and memory (ability to correctly recall previous events or learn new material).

The confusion is not synonymous with inability to pay attention, but the inability to pay attention can cause, or contribute to generate confusion. Together, confusion and inability to pay attention (both of which affect judgment) are parallel problems of loss or lack of the normal functions of brain.


Confusion may come on quickly or slowly over time, depending on the cause. It is often temporary, while other times it is permanent and incurable. It may be associated with delirium or dementia. Confusion is more common in the elderly and often occurs during hospitalization. Some confused people may have odd or unusual behaviour or act aggressively.

Confusion has multiple causes, including injuries, medical conditions, medications, environmental factors, and substance abuse. Some other include: alcohol intoxication, brain tumor, concussion, fever, fluid and electrolyte imbalance, head trauma or head injury, illness in an elderly person, illness in a person with existing neurological disease such as a stroke, infections, lack of sleep, low blood sugar, low levels of oxygen, nutritional deficiencies, especially niacin, thiamine, vitamin C, or vitamin B12, seizures, sudden drop in body temperature (hypothermia).

Diagnosis and Treatment

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, a doctor should be called.


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