Confusion and disorientation are common aspects of a condition know as delirium. People with delirium are ‘out of it’ and act strangely detached from their surroundings.
Delirium is a type of reversible mental state. It is often seen in hospital patients following surgery or after some combination of drugs has been tried. Sometime it is seen when older people get sick. It is common, for example, for older people with urinary tract infections to often be confused and detached, often not knowing where they are, what day it is or even what their name is.
When delirium takes place it is because some sort of metabolic event has temporarily unbalanced the body. It is sort of how people feel when they drank too much or when a fever makes you feel woozy. Since delirium is an acute condition, one that develops quickly, it is different from other changes in mental functioning, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, where changes are more permanent.
Most delirium lasts a short period of time, although cases have been known to last anywhere from a few hours to a many weeks.