Altered Mental Status

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An alteration in mental status refers to general changes in brain function, such as confusion, amnesia (memory loss), loss of alertness, loss of orientation (not cognizant of self, time, or place), defects in judgment or thought, poor regulation of emotions, and disruptions in perception, psychomotor skills, and behavior. While an altered mental status is obviously characteristic of a number of psychiatric and emotional conditions, medical conditions and injuries that cause damage to the brain can also cause mental status changes. Confusion, lethargy, delirium, dementia, encephalopathy, and organic brain syndrome are all terms that have been used to refer to conditions hallmarked by mental status changes.

Patients may experience the related symptoms of Confusion, Paranoia, and/or Memory Loss.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/28/2012

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REFERENCE:

Fauci, Anthony S., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008.

Causes of Altered Mental Status
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Other Causes of Altered Mental Status
  • Brain Infections/Abscesses
  • Decompression Sickness
  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis
  • Drug Overdose
  • Infection of the Brain or CNS
  • Korsakoff syndrome
  • Lewy Body Dementia
  • Lipid Storage Diseases
  • Liver Failure
  • Medications
  • Poisoning
  • Respiratory Failure
  • Severe Hemorrhage
  • Thyroid Storm
  • Toxins
  • Vascular Dementia
  • Wernicke Syndrome
  • Wilson Disease
  • Withdrawal From Drug or Alcohol Dependence
Examples of Medications for Altered Mental Status



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