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Disorientation is an altered mental state. A person who's disoriented may not know their location and identity or the time and date. It's often...

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What Is Disorientation?

Disorientation is a type of altered mental status. Orientation is knowledge of one’s:

  • personal identity
  • location
  • date
  • time
  • present situation

Alternative Names

Disoriented, disturbance of orientation, orientation confused, orientation poor, disorientated.


Disorientation is the lack of being able to correctly identify yourself, your location, or the date and time. It’s a sign of an altered mental status. A change in mental status often indicates a serious medical problem that requires immediate medical attention. It may also be a sign of intoxication. The patient is typically unable to give reliable information. Others must be ready to provide important information about the patient’s history, habits, and social situation.

Associated Diagnoses

Similar diagnoses include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
  • epilepsy
  • alcohol related disorders
  • head injury
  • hemorrhagic shock
  • hyperparathyroidism
  • concussion
  • dementia
  • delirium
  • Eencephalitis
  • West Nile Virus
  • narcotic overdose
  • hypoxia
  • hyperglycemia
  • uremia
  • hyperammonemia
  • sedative overdose
  • anti-convulsant overdose
  • psychotropic drug overdose
  • thyrotoxicosis
  • Addison’s disease
  • Cushing’s disease
  • heat stroke
  • hypothermia
  • acidosis
  • alkalosis
  • meningitis
  • encephalopathy
  • subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH)
  • tumors
  • cerebral aneurysm
  • stroke
  • transient ischemic attack
  • basilar migraine
  • traumatic brain injury

Diagnosis and Treatment

Disorientation requires immediate medical attention to determine the diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Call 911

Call 911 if you are unable to arouse a person who is disoriented, or if the person is also agitated and you have concerns that the person might harm themselves or others.

Written by: Emma Nicholls
Edited by:
Medically Reviewed by:
Published: Nov 22, 2016
Published By: Healthline Networks, Inc.
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