Most people get confused from time to time. However, sudden confusion — the rapid change in mental status — is different, and may require immediate medical attention.
Another name for sudden confusion is delirium. A person experiencing delirium may have confused or disorganized thinking and lack awareness of the surrounding environment. The condition can develop over several hours or days.
Anyone experiencing delirium should seek medical aid as soon as possible. Many causes of confusion are treatable, and even reversible, with prompt diagnosis and effective treatment.
If you need immediate help for yourself or someone else experiencing sudden confusion in Northern California, call 911 or visit a Dignity Health North State emergency room. You can use our online waiting service, InQuicker, to select your estimated arrival time to your nearest location.
Recognizing Related Symptoms of Confusion
Sudden confusion, or delirium, may appear similar to dementia. People with dementia are more likely to develop delirium, but they are different problems with different causes. Information about other symptoms observed by family members can help your Dignity Health North State doctor make the most accurate diagnosis.
Symptoms that may accompany sudden confusion include:
- Emotional disturbances
- Disorientation to time or place
- Inability to pay attention or stay focused
- Restlessness or agitation
- Excessive drowsiness
- Reduced alertness or being dazed
What Causes Confusion?
Sudden confusion may be a result of physical or mental conditions, including:
- Severe emotional distress or physical pain
- Alcohol or drug abuse or withdrawal
- Medication overdose or toxicity
- Electrolyte or chemical imbalance
- Heart attack and abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias)
- Kidney or liver failure
- Stroke or brain hemorrhage (bleeding)
A Dignity Health North State doctor may be able to accurately diagnose sudden confusion or delirium with careful observation and basic examinations. However, more extensive testing — such as, imaging exams and blood tests — may be required to confirm or rule out a diagnosis. Once the correct diagnosis is determined, the proper treatment can be applied.
Treating Confusion at Dignity Health North State
When emergencies happen, Dignity Health North State is here to provide the care you and your loved ones need. We offer emergency services at our Northern California hospitals:
Dignity Health North State offers emergency care 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for unexpected conditions, such as sudden confusion, in Mt. Shasta, Red Bluff, and Redding, CA.