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?
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
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