"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Altered mental status: types, symptoms and causes

The brain is a tremendous organ that influences how we predict, move and feel. Many things can affect how the brain works, and when your brain is affected, you could now not think or act as you normally would. You may hear this condition known as altered mental status.

Altered mental status (AMS) is a general term that refers to a change in your average mental function. Altered mental status just isn't a particular diagnosis; It's a symptom of a broader problem. It is a broad term for a variety of neurological symptoms.

Doctors divide altered mental status into three types: delirium, dementia and psychosis:

Delirium. Delirium is a change in mental function that usually leads to confusion and ignorance of the environment. Symptoms of delirium often appear quickly.

Dementia. Dementia is a deterioration in mental performance that leads to difficulty remembering things and problems considering or making decisions. The CDC estimates that roughly five million adults over the age of 65 have dementia. Although dementia is commonly a results of aging, other aspects may also cause it to occur in younger people.

Dementia is a slower, progressive type of mental status change that is commonly attributable to brain disorders comparable to Alzheimer's disease. Vascular problems, which may be attributable to diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and strokes, may also result in dementia. Other causes may be:

  • Medication
  • Pressure on the brain
  • Thyroid hormone imbalance
  • Vitamin deficiency

Psychosis. The term “psychosis” is used when people lose touch with reality. Psychosis typically involves hallucinations by which an individual sees, hears, or otherwise feels something that just isn't there. Alternatively, delusions can occur: the affected person has strong beliefs which can be contradictory to reality. In some people, each may be attributable to an underlying mental illness.

Psychosis may be attributable to mental illnesses comparable to trauma, stress, major depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Some doctors also consider changes in consciousness, comparable to coma or stupor, to be types of altered mental status.

There are many, many things that could cause someone to suffer from AMS. Different forms of altered mental status can have different causes.

For rapidly occurring altered mental states, comparable to: B. in psychosis or delirium, the next causes may exist:

Central nervous system problems. The central nervous system consists of the nerves within the brain and spinal cord. Central nervous system problems that may result in psychosis or delirium include:

  • Cerebral hemorrhage. A cerebral hemorrhage refers to bleeding within the brain. Many things could cause brain bleeding, including bleeding disorders, blood clots, head trauma, pregnancy complications, and excessive alcohol or recreational drug use.
  • Brain tumor. A brain tumor is a growth of abnormal cells within the brain. There are many forms of brain tumors. Some are cancerous, but not all.
  • Hepatic encephalopathy. Hepatic encephalopathy is a nervous system disorder attributable to liver disease. When your liver doesn't function properly, toxins construct up in your blood and may reach your brain.
  • Obstructive hydrocephalus. Obstructive hydrocephalus is a condition by which a blockage causes a buildup of cerebrospinal fluid, leading to increased pressure on the brain.
  • Seizure. A seizure is attributable to a sudden, uncontrolled electrical disturbance in your brain. There are many forms of seizures with many alternative causes.
  • Stroke. A stroke occurs when the blood supply and nutrients to the brain are interrupted by either a blood clot or a ruptured blood vessel. There are various kinds of strokes that may have different symptoms and effects.

Overdose or withdrawal of medication. An overdose occurs when someone takes more medication or drugs than their body can handle. Withdrawal occurs when someone who's physically depending on a drugs or drug stops or reduces their intake of the drug. Both can result in an altered mental state.

Infections. Infections occur when germs enter the body and spread there. Many forms of infections (comparable to meningitis, pneumonia, and even urinary tract infections) could cause altered mental states.

Metabolic disorders. Metabolic disorders disrupt your body's metabolic process, the technique of breaking down food to supply energy. These can include:

  • Dehydration. Dehydration occurs when your body doesn't have enough fluids, comparable to: B. water, to be able to function properly.
  • Hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia can also be often known as low blood sugar levels. Common causes include poor weight loss program and an excessive amount of insulin, a hormone your body must balance blood sugar.
  • Hyponatremia. Hyponatremia is a condition by which your body has too little sodium.
  • Hypothermia. When you're hypothermic, your body temperature drops too low to take care of normal functions.
  • Hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is the results of an underactive thyroid.
  • Hypoxemia. Hypoxemia occurs when your blood doesn't contain enough oxygen.

Reactions to prescription medications. Some prescription medications could cause unintended effects that cause mental status changes. Medications comparable to corticosteroids, anti-seizure medications, sedatives, and sleeping pills are known to change mental status as an unwanted side effect.

Shock. Shock occurs when your body doesn't receive enough blood flow. This may be attributable to heart problems, an infection, an allergic response, or severe bleeding.

Traumatic brain injuries. Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) occur when the brain is injured, often as a consequence of a violent blow to the pinnacle. Some traumatic brain injuries are mild and heal well, but others could cause long-term problems and even death.

Symptoms of altered mental status vary depending on the form of altered mental status and the cause.

Symptoms of delirium may include:

  • Behavioral changes. These may include hallucinations, restlessness, and difficulty sleeping
  • Cognitive impairment. Cognitive impairment (poor considering skills) can manifest as disorientation, poor memory, wandering or difficulty speaking, and difficulty reading or writing.
  • Emotional disorders. Emotional disorders can range from depressed to manic. Possible disorders include anxiety, apathy, depression, elation, irritability and anger, and these can all change quickly.
  • Reduced awareness of the environment. Decreased awareness could cause one to have difficulty staying focused or to develop into withdrawn.

Symptoms of dementia can include:

  • Problems with memory, e.g. For example, forgetting the name of a member of the family or getting lost in a well-known neighborhood
  • Attention problems, including the lack to finish tasks
  • Problems with communication
  • Improper problem solving or poor judgment

The two foremost symptoms of psychosis are hallucinations and delusions.

  • Hallucinations. When someone experiences hallucinations, they sense something that just isn't there. This often means they see or hear something that isn't real, but they may also feel, taste or smell something that doesn't exist.
  • Delusions. Delusions occur when an individual strongly believes in something that almost all other people don't imagine or that doesn't make sense.

Diagnosing altered mental status often begins with a physical examination. Your doctor will examine your airway and respiration, check for injuries or exposure, and assess your mental status. They might also speak to members of the family who're accustomed to your usual behavior.

If you're diagnosed with altered mental status, the subsequent step is to find out the cause. For this purpose, your doctor may perform a series of tests, including blood tests, urine tests, and imaging studies.

Treating altered mental status means treating the reason for your altered mental status. This may mean giving or changing medications, giving oxygen or fluids, or having surgery.

Some causes of altered mental status, comparable to Alzheimer's disease, haven't any cure and as a substitute require supportive care.