Let's see if we can figure out what's causing your disorientation.
Select additional symptoms and we'll narrow your results.

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
  • location
  • date
  • time
  • present situation

Alternative Names

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.

Associated Diagnoses

Similar diagnoses include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
  • epilepsy
  • alcohol related disorders
  • head injury
  • hemorrhagic shock
  • hyperparathyroidism
  • concussion
  • dementia
  • delirium
  • Eencephalitis
  • West Nile Virus
  • narcotic overdose
  • hypoxia
  • hyperglycemia
  • uremia
  • hyperammonemia
  • sedative overdose
  • anti-convulsant overdose
  • psychotropic drug overdose
  • thyrotoxicosis
  • Addison’s disease
  • Cushing’s disease
  • heat stroke
  • hypothermia
  • acidosis
  • alkalosis
  • meningitis
  • encephalopathy
  • subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH)
  • tumors
  • cerebral aneurysm
  • stroke
  • 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

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.

Article Sources:

Read More

See a list of possible causes in order from the most common to the least.


Head Injury

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

A head injury could be an injury to the brain, skull, or scalp. It can vary in severity depending on the cause. In some cases face swelling can be a sign of a head injury.

Read more »


Dementia Overview

Dementia may affect memory, thinking, language, judgment, and behavior. Mental impairment must affect at least two brain functions to be considered dementia.

Read more »


Partial Seizures

The human brain works by sending electrical signals through neurons, which are nerve cells. A seizure occurs when there's a surge in this electrical activity.

Read more »


What is Alzheimer's Disease?

Alzheimer's disease (AD), the most common cause of dementia, is a progressive brain disorder. Learn about the causes, signs and research being done about AD.

Read more »



Sleeplessness, or insomnia, is a serious sleep disorder. It can mean the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night, or the tendency to wake too early before having gotten enough sleep.

Read more »



This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the membrane that covers the brain and spinal cord. It may cause headache and fever in teens and adults, irritability in babies, and trouble breathing in young children.

Read more »



Hepatic encephalopathy is a decline in brain function that occurs as a result of severe liver disease. This causes a buildup of toxins in the bloodstream.

Read more »


Acute Mountain Sickness

Acute mountain sickness (altitude sickness or high altitude pulmonary edema) occurs in high altitudes, especially when exercising. A lack of oxygen can give the skin and lips a blue tinge.

Read more »



This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain tissue. It's most often caused by viral infections. In some cases, bacterial infections can cause encephalitis.

Read more »


Chronic Respiratory Failure

When you breathe, you take in oxygen-rich air. This oxygen moves through the bloodstream and into the organs and tissues of your body. The respiratory (breathing) system also removes carbon dioxide from your blood. Whe...

Read more »



Pyelonephritis is an inflammation of the kidney and upper urinary tract. Symptoms include flushed skin, back pain, fever, and nausea.

Read more »


Dissection of the Aorta

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

The aorta is a large artery that carries blood out of your heart. If you experience a dissection of the aorta, it means that blood has entered the wall of the artery, between the inner and middle layers. This can happe...

Read more »



Also known as somnambulism, sleepwalking is a condition where a person walks or moves around as if he or she is awake while asleep. Sleepwalkers may perform a variety of activities while asleep, including gettin...

Read more »


Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease and Mad Cow Disease

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is an infectious disease that causes the brain to degenerate. The hallmark of this brain disease is an inability to think clearly and take care of oneself.

Read more »


Whipple's Disease

Whipple's disease is a rare but dangerous bacterial disease that prevents the body from properly absorbing nutrients. The disease affects many parts of the body and is associated with a variety of symptoms.

Read more »



This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

Delirium is an abrupt change in the brain that causes mental confusion and emotional disruption. It makes it difficult to think, remember, sleep, pay attention, and more. You might experience the condition durin...

Read more »

This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to diagnose.
Please consult a healthcare professional if you have health concerns.