If you end up in a state of confusion, you temporarily find it hard to think, do things and talk clearly. One loses the perception of time and space and can sometimes see or hear things that are not real. The state of confusion is most common in older people and is because the brain has been subjected to extreme stress, such as stress or lack of oxygen.

Most often, confusion is due to physical problems or illnesses, but it can also be caused by major changes in life, such as a relocation. Some drugs may also cause confusion. The condition can last from a few hours to a few days. You do not usually get any future problems, but sometimes the confusion can be a sign of a disease that does not pass, such as dementia.


If you have gotten into a state of confusion it usually shows up quickly, often over the course of a few hours. It is difficult to perceive one’s surroundings and to think clearly, as well as to speak, understand and act appropriately. Night can be turned into day and it is difficult to concentrate on doing one thing at a time. You mostly walk around, pick among your things and talk incoherently. Sometimes you can get hallucinations when you feel like seeing or hearing things that are not in reality.

The state of confusion can last for a few hours to a few days. You can get better and worse several times in one day.

When should I seek care?

The state of confusion is most common in older people. If you are older and at the end of the day becomes a bit unclear, but it goes over after rest, you do not need to seek care. But if you suddenly feel very confused, you need to be examined by a doctor.

If you live in any type of care home, there is usually a responsible nurse who you can turn to around the clock. The nurse then contacts the district doctor or hospital doctor if needed. Sometimes the doctor chooses to make a home visit to see how you feel.

If you live in your own accommodation without medical resources, you should, or with the help of relatives, contact a health care center . You can seek care at any healthcare center you want throughout the country. You also have the opportunity to have a regular doctor’s contact at the health center.


It is common to first be examined by a doctor at the health center. Sometimes you can also see a doctor who is a specialist in, for example, age disorders, neurological or mental illnesses.

If the doctor thinks that a more comprehensive examination is needed, you may need to be admitted to hospital. Many times people with severe states of confusion come directly to an emergency room in a hospital.

An important part of the investigation is your own history. Your doctor needs to be clear about the problems you have and how they have developed. For example, it is important to tell if you have had a severe blow to the head, perhaps if you have fallen. If you have had trouble peeing or emptying the bowel, tell it, as well if you have pain anywhere or have a fever. The doctor also needs to know what medications you are taking, as some medications can cause confusion.

The doctor performs a thorough examination of the entire body and then pays particular attention to causes that can cause confusion. You may be given blood samples to enable the doctor to detect any infection, heart attack, drug overdose, disruption of metabolism or salt disturbance.

If there is a suspicion of cerebral infarction or cerebral haemorrhage, a layer X-ray of the brain, a so-called computed tomography , or an examination with a magnetic camera is often made . In addition, you must do an ECG for the heart to be assessed. Sometimes the doctor will check if you have a urinary tract infection . You may also need to have a lung x-ray done to rule out that you have an infection of the lungs or heart failure. Most often, the doctor can find one or more causes that have triggered the state of confusion.

A right to receive information

You will need to know who to contact and when to find out the answers after sampling and surveys. You should also find out where to turn if you get worse.

The healthcare staff should tell you what treatment options are available. They should make sure you understand what the different options mean, what side effects are available and where you can get treatment. This way you can help decide which treatment is right for you.

In order for you to be active in your care and make decisions, it is  important that you understand the  information you receive. The healthcare staff is obliged to make sure that you do so. Ask questions. You can also ask to have the information written down so you can read it peacefully. 


In the first place, you receive treatment for the cause that has triggered the confusion, such as a heart attack, infection or constipation. Usually, the confusion goes away within a few days after the treatment has begun.

Sometimes you may need to take sleep medication at night to get a normal daily rhythm. If you get troublesome hallucinations, you may sometimes need specially adapted medications, called neuroleptics.

It is often necessary to have a calm and stable environment around them, and to receive care and help from as few different people as possible. A person who is confused should never be left alone.

What is the state of confusion?

If the brain is exposed to some kind of extreme stress, such as stress or temporary oxygen deficiency, the brain’s way of functioning is disturbed. Sometimes the disturbances can be so great that you end up in a state of confusion, so-called confusion.

The state of confusion is most common in older people. The problems are temporary and you get no complaints afterwards, but the confusion is a warning signal that the brain has been exposed to high stress. Because it can sometimes be due to a serious illness, you should always seek care if you or a relative ends up in a state of confusion.

Physical disorders may be behind

Common causes of the brain being extremely stressed can be infections, pain, hypotension, constipation or other bodily disorders. It is also very common for drugs to cause confusion, such as painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs. Major changes in life, such as a change of home, can also cause confusion.

The cause is dealt with in the first place

Confusion often occurs at the same time as you get other illnesses or physical problems. It is common for the illness or the disorder itself to have triggered the confusion.

Causes of a state of confusion can be

  • impaired blood circulation in the brain due to, for example, stroke or hypotension in anesthesia
  • impaired blood circulation in the body in general, due to, for example, a blood clot in the lung or heart attack
  • pain
  • infections
  • urine, that is, a stop for the urine that prevents you from peeing
  • constipation
  • head injury
  • drug reactions. 

You need to be examined by a doctor to find out the cause of the confusion and get treatment for it. Then the confusion usually goes away within a few days.

How can I prevent confusion?

As you get older, you become more easily tired and stressed than younger people. One way to prevent confusion can be to get good sleep and also rest daytime if needed. It is also good to eat a well-composed diet and not drink a lot of alcohol.

Older people who live too isolated without socializing with others risk being confused. Therefore, it is important that you have contact with relatives, friends and other people.

Regular habits can prevent

By having regular habits and sleeping well, you can prevent getting into a state of confusion. Many elderly people sleep too much during the day, and can then wake up at night and become confused.

Activities that are too long and demanding can lead to fatigue in the elderly, with the risk of confusion. It is important to know what each person is capable of and have respect for it.

It is also important to regularly review which medications you are taking. It is done together with your doctor.

Ehtisham Nadeem

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