What causes concentration difficulty?
Concentration difficulties can be caused by medical, cognitive or psychological problems or may be related to sleep disorders or medications, alcohol or drugs.
Medical causes of concentration difficulty
Concentration difficulty may be caused by medical conditions including:
- Congestive heart failure (deterioration of the heart’s ability to pump blood)
- Heavy metal poisoning
- Kidney disease (which includes any type of kidney problem such as kidney stones, kidney failure, and kidney anomalies)
- Liver disease (which includes any type of liver problem such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver failure)
- Medication side effects
- Metabolic disorders and certain vitamin deficiencies
- Pain syndromes
- Seizure disorders
- Sleep apnea (pauses in breathing during sleep)
- Vision disorders
Cognitive causes of concentration difficulty
Concentration difficulty can also be caused by cognitive problems including:
- Attention deficit disorder
- Learning disabilities
Psychological causes of concentration difficulty
Concentration difficulty can also be caused by psychological conditions including:
- Alcohol or substance abuse
- Bipolar disorder (alternating periods of depression and elevated mood)
- Emotional trauma
- Schizophrenia (severe brain disorder affecting thought processes and emotional responses)
Serious or life-threatening causes of concentration difficulty
In some cases, concentration difficulty may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. These include:
- Brain or spinal cord injury
- Brain or spinal cord tumor
- Drug overdose
- Encephalitis (inflammation and swelling of the brain due to a viral infection or other causes)
- Heat stroke
- Kidney failure
- Meningitis (infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord)
- Sepsis (severe infection of the bloodstream)
Questions for diagnosing the cause of concentration difficulty
To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your concentration difficulty including:
- How long have you had difficulty with concentration?
- Do you have any other symptoms?
- Do you have any difficulties with sleeping?
- Do you have any medical problems?
- Did anything such as an injury or illness precede the symptoms?
- What medications are you taking? Are you taking any new medications?
- Do you drink any alcohol?
- Are you using any street drugs?
What are the potential complications of concentration difficulty?
Because concentration difficulty can be due to serious diseases, failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:
- Developmental delays and failure to thrive
- Learning disability
- Paralysis or inability to move a body part
- Permanent cognitive impairment
- Permanent loss of sensation
- Personality changes
- Physical disability
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). PubMed Health. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002518/. Accessed May 2, 2011.
What is concentration difficulty?
Concentration difficulty is a decreased ability to focus your thoughts on something. Concentration difficulties can be related to difficulty staying awake, impulsiveness, intrusive thoughts or concerns, overactivity, or inattention. They can be caused by medical, cognitive or psychological problems or may be related to Read more about concentration difficulty introduction
What other symptoms might occur with concentration difficulty?
Concentration difficulties may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Conditions that lead to concentration difficulty may involve several different body systems.... Read more about concentration difficulty symptoms