What is confusion?Confusion can be a slowly increasing process or it can occur suddenly and acutely. Often, older people are affected by a confusion.
Confusion manifests itself as a disorientation associated with inner restlessness and impaired memory. This can lead to impaired perception and concentration, as well as a loss of performance.
Most sufferers suffer from a limited ability to react. In some cases, those affected are very sleepy or aggressive. There is often an increased amount of confusion at night. Confusion does not usually affect long-term memory.
The symptoms may increase or increase in a slow process. In an acute and abrupt onset of confusion, the cause should be medically clarified and appropriate treatment done.
Confusion can have many causes. It may be due to harmless causes, such as a too low fluid balance of the body. Also, various medications can cause confusion as a side effect.
Poisoning, such as after consuming too much alcohol, can also cause states of confusion. However, a whole series of serious illnesses can also be considered triggers. Atherosclerosis, brain injury and heart failure can all cause confusion like diabetes, encephalitis or meningitis. Epilepsy, strokes or brain tumors can also lead to states of confusion.
Especially in the elderly is often a dementia, for example, Alzheimer's, responsible for a confusion. Sometimes it can also come to confusion due to feverish infectious diseases or urine poisoning.
Apart from these physical causes, sometimes social causes, such as the loss of a caregiver or the lack of social contacts, cause confusion.
Diseases with this symptom
- brain tumor
- heart failure
- Diabetes mellitus
- infectious diseases
Diagnosis & History
In the case of an existing confusion, it is important to clarify, before when the diagnosis is made, the state of confusion, what are the underlying conditions, what medications are taken, and whether the hydration is sufficient.
In addition, the psychological burden of the person concerned is clarified. After the basic investigation, blood tests, blood sugar and blood pressure measurements are part of the basic program of examinations. Also, any neurological deficits are checked by reflex and eye examinations, as well as the examination of the sense of balance.
Depending on the suspected cause, the investigations necessary for the underlying disease are carried out. If no organic causes can be determined, a psychiatric examination should be carried out. The course of the disease always depends on the causes.
If the confusion occurs, for example, due to medication or too low fluid intake, this is relatively easy to treat. In more severe underlying diseases, the course of confusion may not be stopped, but at best slowed down.
Confusion is difficult to predict the complications that might occur. These always depend on the mental and physical condition of the person concerned and the strength of the confusion. This often occurs in the elderly and may cause the person to find themselves in a place or with people they do not know.
Such behavior often leads to panic attacks and temper tantrums. In the worst case, the person can also hurt himself if the confusion is greatly advanced. This often causes headaches and forgetfulness, the affected people often can not distinguish between foreign and known people.
The confusion is treated either by a psychologist or by medication, whereby the confusion also often belongs to the aging process and occurs in almost all people. There are no complications during treatment as it is usually a purely mental treatment.
For those affected, assisted living is often organized because they can no longer cope with their own lives and pose a danger to themselves and other people. In most cases, the confusion can not be completely eliminated from the person's life.
When should you go to the doctor?
Confusion can be as harmless as it can be dangerous. In order to recognize whether the confusion of a person must be examined by a doctor, it is important, since when it exists and by what phenomena it is accompanied. The person was until recently quite clear and now seems confused, could be from strokes on a cerebral hemorrhage to low blood pressure with impending impotence many reasons behind it.
Sudden confusion is always an alarm signal, the person affected should be calmed down as much as possible and either driven to the doctor or taken there by ambulance. If drugs or medications are involved, there is a risk that the patient may develop further symptoms or possibly become aggressive in addition to the confusion, which is why this is also a case for the doctor. In old age or in diseases of the nervous system, temporary or permanent confusion may be normal. Nevertheless, a diagnosis should be made with a known diagnosis, if the usual confusion of a person changes something.
There could be a change in the underlying disease that is manifested by increasing or sometimes even diminishing confusion. Confusion is normal and secondary, if the patient has just had a significant physical injury or shock or has been subjected to a lot of mental stress. In such situations, he should be examined around the doctor anyway.
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Treatment & Therapy
As diverse as the causes for a confusion can be, as diverse as the treatment options. If confused due to taking medication, the drug must be discontinued and replaced with another.
If a lack of fluid is the cause of the confusion, it must be provided for a sufficient fluid intake. If the fluid deficiency is already very advanced, sometimes infusion therapy in the hospital is required.
With psychic triggers a caring care of the person concerned is important, in which care should be taken to eliminate as many as possible stress factors for the patient. If the confusion is a concomitant of a physical disease, the therapy depends on the disease.
Outlook & Forecast
Confusion can lead to various complications and different effects on the patient's life. If the confusion occurs only temporarily, it is a harmless symptom, which does not need to be considered. The confusion can occur especially in the consumption of alcohol and other drugs or in the course of a severe flu. This usually disappears by itself.
In most cases, confusion occurs in older people in the course of illness. It can not be treated in a targeted manner so that after a while, the patient may need the help of other people and be permanently cared for. It mainly occurs in patients with dementia or Parkinson's disease.
In some cases confusion occurs after accidents or after epileptic seizures. This can also be controlled only to a limited extent by medication. However, it can not be ruled out that the confusion will accompany the entire life of the patient. It usually reduces the quality of life and in some cases can lead to accidents or negligence.
Confusion can sometimes be prevented by targeted prevention. Thus, especially in the elderly is often a lack of fluid responsible for the confusion. This can be counteracted by a sufficient fluid intake.
Likewise, attention should be paid to a balanced and vitamin-rich diet. In older people, mental and social causes are often the cause of acute confusion. This can be counteracted to some extent by the targeted integration of older patients into social contacts and activities.
A careful psychological care of those affected, social contacts and joint activities are a good precautionary measure, if losses of caregivers are the reason for the confusion.
You can do that yourself
For a good deal with confusion in everyday life is (if possible) the causal treatment in the foreground. Since dehydration may favor confusion, especially in the elderly, care should be taken to ensure adequate drinking. This is especially suitable for water and tea. Even a sufficient and healthy diet can help to reduce further complications (for example, due to malnutrition) and improve the overall quality of life.
In case of strong confusion, which occurs regularly or lasts long or permanently, the support of another person in everyday life can be useful. It depends on the individual case whether a trained nurse is necessary and whether the supportive person must be present at all times. Some sufferers tend to leave the house in their own confusion and get lost so that they can not find their way back home alone. In this case, it may be useful to carry a note with your own address and a phone number. Such a note should be kept safe so that it is easily accessible.
In most cases it is helpful to have a trusted contact person at your side - regardless of how much help is actually needed and desired. If necessary, this person can be aware of how the confusion develops in the long term and whether appropriate measures are necessary.