This term means that there was a brief (transient) episode of losing normal awareness or behavior. It is a description of the event, not a diagnosis. This kind of episode can have many different causes: epileptic seizures, fainting (syncope), or one of a large number of physical problems. It sometimes can occur in psychological conditions.

Testing to find the cause may include CT or MRI scan of the brain, EEG or video-EEG (“brain wave testing”), blood and urine tests, and cardiac testing. When no clear cause is found, we use the term “transient alteration of awareness.”

Even though no cause is definitely found, your doctor may suspect a certain condition and recommend treatment, possibly with medication. You should discuss the treatment plan with your doctor, and should make an appointment with your doctor and/or a neurologist to follow-up after you leave the hospital. If similar events continue in the future, repeat testing may be helpful to figure out the cause more precisely.

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