What causes disorientation? 16 possible conditions
What Is Disorientation?
Disorientation is a type of altered mental status. Orientation is knowledge of one’s:
- personal identity
- present situation
Disoriented, disturbance of orientation, orientation confused, orientation poor, disorientated.
Disorientation is the lack of being able to correctly identify yourself, your location, or the date and time. It’s a sign of an altered mental status. A change in mental status often indicates a serious medical problem that requires immediate medical attention. It may also be a sign of intoxication. The patient is typically unable to give reliable information. Others must be ready to provide important information about the patient’s history, habits, and social situation.
Similar diagnoses include:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Diabetic ketoacidosis
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
- alcohol related disorders
- head injury
- hemorrhagic shock
- West Nile Virus
- narcotic overdose
- sedative overdose
- anti-convulsant overdose
- psychotropic drug overdose
- Addison’s disease
- Cushing’s disease
- heat stroke
- subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH)
- cerebral aneurysm
- transient ischemic attack
- basilar migraine
- traumatic brain injury
Diagnosis and Treatment
Disorientation requires immediate medical attention to determine the diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Call 911 if you are unable to arouse a person who is disoriented, or if the person is also agitated and you have concerns that the person might harm themselves or others.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. (2012, August 15). Delirium. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/delirium/basics/definition/con-20033982
- Memory loss and confusion. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.alz.org/care/dementia-memory-loss-problems-confusion.asp
- When patients suddenly become confused. (2011, May). Retrieved from http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Womens_Health_Watch/2011/May/when-patients-suddenly-become-confused
See a list of possible causes in order from the most common to the least.
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