What is delirium?
Delirium is a state of mental confusion which develops quickly and usually fluctuates in intensity. Delirium is a sudden state of severe confusion and rapid changes in brain function, sometimes associated with hallucinations and hyperactivity, in which the patient is inaccessible to normal contact.
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. Delirium is a group of symptoms, caused by a disturbance in the normal functioning of the brain. The delirious patient has a reduced awareness of and responsiveness to the environment, which may be manifested as disorientation, incoherence, and memory disturbance. Delirium is often marked by hallucinations, delusions, and a dream-like state. Symptoms may include inability to concentrate and disorganized thinking evidenced by rambling, irrelevant, or incoherent speech. There may be a reduced level of consciousness, sensory misperceptions and illusions, disturbances of sleep, drowsiness, disorientation to time, place, or person, and problems with memory.
Delirium affects at least one in ten hospitalized patients, and is a common part of many terminal illnesses. Delirium is more common in the elderly than in the general population. While it is not a specific disease itself, patients with delirium usually fare worse than those with the same illness who do not have delirium.
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.