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Sudden confusion (delirium)

Sudden confusion (delirium) can have many different causes. Get medical help immediately if someone suddenly becomes confused (delirious).

How to tell if someone is confused

If a person is confused, they may:

Try asking the person their name, their age and today's date. If they seem unsure or can't answer you, they probably need medical help.

Things to do while you wait for an ambulance

Do

  • stay with the person – tell them who you are and where they are, and keep reassuring them
  • use simple words and short sentences
  • make a note of any medicines they're taking, if possible

Don't

  • do not ask lots of questions while they're feeling confused
  • do not stop the person moving around – unless they're in danger

Causes of sudden confusion

Sudden confusion can be caused by many different things. Don't try to self-diagnose – get medical help if someone suddenly becomes confused or delirious.

Some of the most common causes of sudden confusion include: