Delirium is a serious disturbance in mental abilities that results in confused thinking and reduced awareness of the environment. The start of is usually rapid — within hours or a few days.
It can often be traced to one or more contributing factors, such as a severe or chronic illness, changes in metabolic balance (such as low sodium), medication, infection, surgery, or alcohol or drug intoxication or withdrawal.
Because symptoms and dementia can be similar, input from a family member or caregiver may be important for a doctor to make an accurate diagnosis.
This may result in:
Document the diagnosis
The features according to Diagnostic and Statistical manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV) are:
A change in cognition (such as memory deficit, disorientation, language disturbance) or the development of a perceptual disturbance that is not better accounted for by a pre-existing or evolving dementia
The disturbance develops over a short period of time (usually hours to days) and tends to fluctuate during the course of the day
There is evidence from history, physical examination or laboratory findings that the disturbance is caused by the direct physiological substance withdrawal
For people diagnosed with delirium identify and
manage the possible underlying cause or
combination of causes by:
In addition to treating the underlying cause,
management should be directed at relieving
Addressing these clinical factors in a patient at risk of delirium can prevent delirium:
Read More about delirium here
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