Skip to content

    Brain & Nervous System Health Center

    Font Size

    Temporary Confusion or Decreased Alertness - Topic Overview

    Many health problems cause confusion or decreased alertness. It is not unusual for a person who is sick to be sleepy or confused when he or she wakes up. But extreme sleepiness may be a symptom of a more serious health problem.

    Confusion may range from mild to severe. Symptoms of confusion may include:

    Recommended Related to Brain & Nervous System

    Cerebral Palsy Key to Josh Blue's Act

    Many a naysayer told Josh Blue that he couldn't be a comedian. But look who's laughing now. The 28-year-old funny man beat out the competition on the fourth season of NBC's Last Comic Standing, even though, as he puts it, "there are many white male comedians, but not too many with cerebral palsy." Blue's disability is a big part of his act. "Any joke I tell comes from the perspective of someone with cerebral palsy. I can't say things from the point of view of a young black woman," he deadpans. He...

    Read the Cerebral Palsy Key to Josh Blue's Act article > >

    • Jumbled or disorganized thoughts.
    • Unusual, bizarre, or aggressive behavior.
    • Having trouble solving problems or doing tasks that used to be easy for you.
    • Not knowing where you are or not recognizing family members or familiar items.
    • Firmly held but false beliefs (delusions).
    • Seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, or tasting things that are not really there (hallucinations or illusions).
    • Unfounded suspicions that others are after you or want to harm you (paranoia).

    Decreased alertness occurs when a person is not fully awake, aware of, or able to respond normally to his or her external environment. Decreased alertness may also mean that a chronic illness has gotten worse.

    A sudden change in the mental state or level of consciousness may be caused by:

    Other problems that may lead to confusion or decreased alertness include:

    A complete medical examination may be needed before the cause of your confusion or decreased alertness can be diagnosed. Treatment depends on the cause of the problem. Contact your doctor for an exam if you are having problems with confusion or decreased alertness.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    Next Article:

    Temporary Confusion or Decreased Alertness Topics

    Today on WebMD

    nerve damage
    Learn how this disease affects the nervous system.
    senior woman with lost expression
    Know the early warning signs.
    woman in art gallery
    Tips to stay smart, sharp, and focused.
    medical marijuana plant
    What is it used for?
    senior man
    boy hits soccer ball with head
    red and white swirl
    marijuana plant
    brain illustration stroke
    nerve damage
    Alzheimers Overview
    Graphic of number filled head and dna double helix