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What is disorientation?

Disorientation is an altered mental state. Disorientation is what you experience when you are confused about the time, where you are or even who you are.

How common is disorientation?

Disorientation is common. It can occur in patients in any gender at any age. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Which signs and symptoms can disorientation usually be associated with?

Related signs and symptoms include:

  • Confusion, or being unable to think with your normal level of clarity
  • Delirium, or being confused and having disrupted attention
  • Having delusions, or believing things even if they’ve been proven false
  • Agitation, or feelings of aggressiveness and restlessness
  • Hallucinating, or seeing or hearing things that aren’t there
  • Wandering around


What causes disorientation?

Causes of disorientation can include:

  • Delirium and dementia. Two common causes of disorientation are delirium and dementia.Delirium is caused by sudden abnormal brain functioning that lasts for only a short period of time. It can be triggered by medications, infections, and trauma. Something as simple as a change in surroundings can also be a trigger for delirium. For example, certain adults may experience hospital delirium after surgery or after being in intensive care. The three types of delirium are:
    • Hyperactive
    • Hypoactive
    • Mixed

Hyperactive delirium may cause hallucinations and agitated behavior. Hypoactive delirium may cause drowsiness and withdrawn behavior. Mixed delirium may cause both types of behavior.

  • Delirium is characterized by:
    • Reduced thinking skills
    • Poor attention span
    • Hallucinations
    • Abnormal speech patterns or content

Delirium often arises quickly, fades away within days or weeks, and fluctuates in character. Dementia develops more slowly than delirium, is usually permanent, and causes consistent symptoms. Disorientation and short-term memory loss can be some of the early signs of dementia.

  • Drugs. Disorientation can be a side effect of a number of drugs, including:
    • Alcohol
    • Marijuana
    • Prescription medications

Withdrawal from certain drugs can also cause disorientation.

Other possible causes include:

  • Amnesia
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Cerebral arteritis, or inflammation of arteries in the brain
  • Cirrhosis and liver failure
  • Central nervous system infections such as encephalitis or meningitis
  • Complex partial seizures
  • Concussion
  • Dehydration
  • Drug overdoses including prescription medications
  • Electrolyte abnormalities
  • Epilepsy
  • Fever
  • Heat-related illnesses
  • Hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia
  • Hypothermia, when your temperature drops below 95°f (35°c)
  • Hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism
  • Hypoxia, or reduced oxygen supply
  • Mass lesion in the brain like a tumor or a hematoma
  • Mitochondrial disease
  • Orthostatic hypotension
  • Renal failure
  • Reye’s syndrome
  • Sepsis
  • Stroke
  • Vitamin deficiency
  • Vestibular disorders, which affect the inner ear

The conditions mentioned above are some common causes of disorientation. Consult with your doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for disorientation?

You are more likely to experience disorientation if you have any of the conditions mentioned above.

Please consult with your doctor for further information.

When to see your doctor

When should I see my doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you or your loved one has any of the following:

In some people, such as those with dementia, these symptoms might develop slowly. But if someone becomes suddenly disoriented, they need to seek medical attention since this is a sign something is wrong. That applies both to old and to young people.

Signs that someone is disoriented and needs help include:

  • They don’t seem to focus their attention
  • They’re slow and uncertain
  • They’re mumbling and not making sense
  • They don’t recognise people they know
  • They’re agitated and upset
  • They’re seeing things that aren’t really there

On noticing one of these symptoms or having any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor to get the best solutions for your situation.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage disorientation?

These following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with disorientation:

  • You should follow your doctor’s instructions if you are taking medicines to treat the cause of your disorientation.
  • If the cause is something that can’t be easily treated, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about dealing with disorientation in the future. Let your family know what to do if it happens again.

If you take care of someone who is prone to a disoriented state, here are things you can do to help:

  • Keep track of their medical history. Make sure that you have a list of all medications that your loved one has taken. Your knowledge of their habits, hospital history, and current symptoms can be vital in reaching a diagnosis.
  • Try to make surroundings familiar. A change in location can cause disorientation. Having objects that may remind your loved one of who they are may help orient them.
  • Stay close. Your presence may provide reassurance and comfort. Your familiarity with the person will also help

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor for the best solutions.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Hello Health Group tidak memberikan nasihat perubatan, diagnosis atau rawatan.

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