It is the disorder of the state of consciousness by virtue of which it is obnubilated, with more or less severe alterations of the capacity of orientation in time and space and of the recognition of people, with loss of critical control (which allows to distinguish between fantasy and reality) and the consequent appearance of delusions, sometimes sustained by hallucinations.
The duration of the confusional syndrome can vary greatly from a few hours to several months.
It is due to an alteration in the brain structures that regulate conscious activity.
Symptomatology usually begins abruptly with headache, insomnia, anxiety and manic-type excitement. Sometimes these symptoms overlap from the onset hallucinatory states, delusions and mental automatisms.
It is not to be confused, especially in the elderly person, mental confusion with dementia, which consists of an overall deterioration of mental activity. In any case, in the face of a state of mental confusion, expression of an organic alteration, the cause must always be sought.
In the pathogenesis of confusional states, organic diseases of the subject or exogenous factors are fundamentally recognized. Febrile increases, especially in children, infectious diseases (septicemia, malaria, acute rheumatism, tuberculosis, syphilis, etc.) may be mentioned; metabolic and deficiency diseases (several anoxemias, decompensated hyperazoemia); hormonal disorders (Basedow’s disease); respiratory diseases; exogenous poisonings (carbon monoxide, industrial poisons, alcoholism, certain drugs and certain drugs); specific diseases of the central nervous system (brain: encephalitis, meningitis, epilepsy, head trauma, tumors) and diseases of the cerebral vessels (cerebral arteries) in their chronic evolution (cerebral arteriosclerosis) or acute complications (stroke).