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Delirium is a change in mental status. This a change in how the brain works which leads to extreme, shifting changes, including:
An injury or illness of the brain can cause delirium .Some of the most common causes include:
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Factors that may increase your risk of developing delirium include:
Symptoms usually come on quickly. They can last for days, weeks, or longer. They also vary from mild to severe. Symptoms are often worse at night and may include:
Severe symptoms include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will ask specific questions about:
The doctor may suspect delirium after the exam. To determine a cause your doctor may need to run several tests such as:
Treatment will focus on the cause. It may relieve the delirium. Symptoms may also need to be treated. Treatment plan may include combo of medicine, psychology, and support.
Treatments may include:
Options may include:
Some medicine may need to be stopped or changed.
Psychological therapy may help you:
Caretakers can take steps to help on a day to day basis. It may help to readjust to surroundings and lower anxiety. Examples of this intervention include:
In general, delirium is difficult to prevent. There are many different causes. It can also come on suddenly.
The risk of delirium in hospitalized patients at risk for delirium may be decreased by:
American Psychiatric Association
National Institute of Mental Health
Canadian Psychiatric Association
Canadian Psychological Association
Delirium in hospitalized patients. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116623/Delirium-in-hospitalized-patients. Updated July 26, 2018. Accessed October 1, 2018.
Inouye SK, Westendorp RG, Saczynski JS. Delirium in elderly people. Lancet. 2014 Mar 8;383(9920):911-22, commentary can be found in Lancet 2014 Jun 14;383(9934):2044.
Gleason O. Delirium. Am Fam Physician. 2003;67(5):1027-1034.
Mistraletti G, Pelosi P, Mantovani ES, Berardino M, Gregoretti C. Delirium: clinical approach and prevention. Best Pract Res Clin Anaesthesiol. 2012 Sep;26(3):311-26
4/29/2016 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116623/Delirium-in-hospitalized-patients: Litton E, Carnegie V, Elliott R, Webb SA. The efficacy of earplugs as a sleep hygiene strategy for reducing delirium in the ICU: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Crit Care Med. 2016;44(5):992-999.
Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD Last Updated: 10/1/2018