Confusion

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What it feels like: feeling unclear as to what is going on around you,often accompanied by disorientation, difficulty maintaining atten-tion, loss of memory, disordered or illogical thoughts.

What can make it worse: head injury, recent intake of alcohol ordrugs, recent end to alcohol or drug habit, recent disease, changes inyour environment, such as your job, home, or relationships.

Your Doctor Visit

What your doctor will ask you — or your caretaker — about:changes in attention span, changes in mood or the ability to concen-trate, hallucinations, lethargy or stupor, excessive activity, changes insensation or the ability to move extremities, headache, fever, vomit-ing, breathing trouble.

Your doctor will want to know if you or anyone in your familyhas had any of these conditions: chronic medical or nervous sys-tem disease, recent surgery or childbirth, alcoholism or drug abuse,history of emotional problems or psychiatric hospitalizations.

Your doctor will ask you about your ability to remember time,place, persons, and recent events, and will likely want to speakwith a person who knows you well.

Your doctor will want to know if you’re taking any of these med-ications: barbiturates, tranquilizers, antidepressants, ampheta-mines, steroids, atropine or belladonna, alcohol, marijuana, LSD,mescaline, cocaine, or other illicit drugs.

Your doctor will do a physical examination including the following: blood pressure, pulse, temperature, breathing rate, mental statusexam including orientation and simple calculations, thorough eye exam, checking neck for stiffness and thyroid enlargement, listeningto your chest and heart with a stethoscope, pushing on your abdomen,rectal exam, testing stool for blood, checking limbs for swelling anddiscoloration, thorough skin exam, thorough nervous system exam.

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF CONFUSION, AND WHAT IS TYPICAL FOR EACH TYPE?

Type: Delirium
What is it: Confused state resulting  from underlying disease  such as alcoholism, or  the sudden worsening of  diseases such as diabetes,or from medications
Typcal Symptoms: Disorientation, difficulty  maintaining attention,  going in and out of con- sciousness, hyperactivity,  hallucinations; may  include stupor (difficultystaying awake)

Type: Dementia,  including  Alzheimer’s  disease, Pick’s  disease (similar to Alzheimer’s), and senile dementia, but canalso be caused by underlying brain problems
What is it: Gradual loss of memory   and intellectual function
Typcal Symptoms: Memory loss, inability to  perform simple calculations; changes in reflexes  often occur in severe  dementia

Type: Psychosis
What is it: Loss of grip on reality;  typical in schizophreniaand following use of  drugs such as LSD
Typcal Symptoms: Disordered or illogical  thoughts, typically no disorientation nor impaired  intellect