Altered Mental Status

General Principles

Mental status changes have a broad differential diagnosis that includes neurologic (e.g., stroke, seizure, delirium), metabolic (e.g., hypoxemia, hypoglycemia), toxic (e.g., drug effects, alcohol withdrawal), and other etiologies. Infection is a common cause of mental status changes in the elderly and in patients with underlying neurologic disease. Sundown syndrome refers to the appearance of worsening confusion in the evening and is associated with dementia, delirium, and unfamiliar environments.

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