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Confusion is a change in mental status wherein a person is incapable of thinking clearly or quickly as one normally. In most cases, it is temporary, but it can also seldom denote a sign of an incurable illness or injury.Although confusion may occur to anyone, it is most common with elder individuals. Usually, confusion leads to inability to recognize people and/ or places, tell the time and the date. The ability to make decisions may also be impaired. Moreover, confusion may also occur gradually or suddenly, depending on the cause.Confusion is commonly associated with delirium or dementia.

Causes of Confusion

There is a wide variety of causes that may result to confusion. Some include illnesses, injuries, medications and others. The following are some of the commonly associated causes of confusion:

  • Delirium
  • Dementia
  • Head injuries and traumas such as concussion
  • Fever
  • Fluid and electrolyte imbalance
  • Dehydration
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Certain medications
  • Body infections
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Brain tumour
  • Stroke
  • Pneumonia
  • Epilepsy or seizures
  • Hypothermia (sudden drop in body temperature)
  • Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)
  • Oxygen deficiency or overdose
  • Kidney failure
  • Alcohol intoxication

Signs and Symptoms of Confusion

                It is essential to be wary for signs and symptoms of confusion to determine if treatment is necessary immediately. The following signs and symptoms of confusion may not all be present but should be watched out for anyway:

  • Having difficulty speaking that may lead to slurring of words or having long pauses during speech
  • Lack of awareness of name, place, or time
  • Failure to recall task performed while doing it
  • Quick change in emotion, such as sudden agitation or even aggression

First Aid Management for Victims of Confusion

There is no specific treatment for confusion. Treatment will be tailored according to the cause. For victims suspected with confusion, first aid can be administered to ensure that no further damage befalls on the victim. Simple measures can be done to help a confused victim:

  • Ask the person for his/ her name, age, time and event/ date. If answered incorrectly or if unsure, they are likely confused.
  • Do not leave the person alone at all times to avoid any further injury.
  • Encourage the person to rest.
  • Follow specific first aid protocol for hypoglycaemia, hypothermia, head injury or trauma, dehydration, stroke, if it is caused by any of the following.
  • If it is caused by an infection or any other medical problems, seek medical attention.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol and eat a healthy, well-balanced diet abundant with vitamins and minerals.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Quit smoking.

Disclaimer: This article does not provide medical advice or treatment. The information given should not be used for self-diagnosis of possible conditions. Seek medical attention when necessary. Understanding symptoms that are commonly present in medical situations may help when taking first aid training. To learn more about to how to ease symptoms, such as confusion, enrol in First Aid Courses with workplace approved Training.


Confusion.(2012). National Institutes of Health. Retrieved September 30, 2013, from

Wint, Carmella. Confusion.(2012). Healthline. Retrieved September 30, 2013, from

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