What's the treatment for delirium?
Treatment of delirium begins with recognizing and treating the underlying cause. Delirium itself is managed by reducing disturbing stimuli, or providing soothing ones; use of simple, clear language in communication; and reassurance,
especially from family members. Physical restraints may be needed if the patient is a danger to himself or others, or if he insists on removing necessary medical equipment such as intravenous lines or monitors. Sedatives or antipsychotic drugs may be used to reduce anxiety, hallucinations, and delusions.
During the search for an underlying medical condition, symptomatic treatment for delirium may include the use of antipsychotic drugs to control agitation and hallucinations, and to clear the sensorium. Drugs that sedate (calm) the patient may also be used, especially if the patient is near death. All of these drugs have side effects and the patient will be monitored closely by a doctor. The decision to use drugs that sedate the patient will be made in cooperation with family members after efforts have been made to reverse the delirium.
The standard approach to managing delirium is to find and treat the causes. Symptoms may be treated at the same time. Identifying the causes of delirium will include a physical examination to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease. A medical history of the patient's past illnesses and treatments will also be taken. In a terminally ill, delirious patient being cared for at home, the doctor may do a limited assessment to determine the cause or may treat just the symptoms.
More information on delirium
What is delirium? - Delirium is a syndrome characterized by the rapid onset of variable and fluctuating changes in mental status caused by physiologic consequences of a medical disturbance.
What causes delirium? - There are a large number of possible causes of delirium. Metabolic disorders are the single most common cause. Drug intoxication is another cause.
What're the risk factors for delirium? - Risk factors include advanced cancer or other serious illness, having more than one disease, older age, previous mental disorder.
What're the symptoms of delirium? - The symptoms of delirium include a clouding of awareness and consciousness, confusion, hallucinations, memory deficits, sleep disturbances.
How is delirium diagnosed? - Delirium is a clinical diagnosis. Diagnosis is based on observed changes in mental status that are related to some underlying medical disturbance.
What's the treatment for delirium? - Treatment of delirium begins with recognizing and treating the underlying cause. Delirium itself is managed by reducing disturbing stimuli.
How to prevent delirium? - Prevention of delirium is focused on treating or avoiding its underlying causes. The most preventable forms are those induced by drugs.