Alteration in Mental Status

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Medically Reviewed By:

Bret Mobley

Bret Mobley, MD, MS

Neuropathology

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Content updated on Sep 6, 2022

About the symptom

Altered mental status is when the brain doesn't function normally. This includes confused thinking, reduced awareness, disorientation, and drowsiness. There are many causes, including infection, blood sugar changes, and dehydration.

When to see a doctor

Seek professional care if you experience any of the following symptoms

  • Recent changes in mental state

Possible causes

  • Dissociative disorder

    Dissociative disorder is mental disorder that involve experiencing a disconnection and lack of continuity between thoughts, memories, surroundings, actions and identity. People with dissociative disorder escape reality in ways that are involuntary and unhealthy and cause problems with functioning in everyday life.

  • Alzheimer dementia (AD)

    Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia. The brain shrinks affecting memory and behavior. Symptoms worsen over time, and can interfere with daily life. Increasing age increases the risk for Alzheimer dementia.

  • Anorexia nervosa / bulimia nervosa

    A condition where there is abnormal fear of gaining weight. Patients try to lose weight excessively through fasting, inducing vomiting, or excessive exercise.

  • Mild cognitive impairment (MCI)
  • Cushing syndrome
  • Alcohol dependence / delirium tremens
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome

Related serious diseases

  • Epilepsy

    Epilepsy is a neurological disorder where brain activity becomes abnormal. This can cause seizures of varying lengths of time and severity. Epilepsy can affect people of any age and may occur due to genetic disorders or brain injury such as stroke.

  • Chronic subdural hematoma
  • Hepatic encephalopathy

Questions your doctor may ask about this symptom

Your doctor may ask these questions to check for this symptom

  • Recently, are you more confused than before?

  • Do you feel fatigued?

  • Do you have difficulty sleeping (Insomnia)?

  • Do you have less or no appetite, therefore eat less food?

  • Do you feel tired almost every day and unmotivated to do anything?

Other Related Symptoms

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Medically Reviewed By:

Bret Mobley

Bret Mobley, MD, MS

Neuropathology

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