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Delirium

Overview

A condition of severe confusion and rapid changes in brain function, usually the result of treatable physical or mental illness.


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Causes

Acute confusional states are usually the result of a physical or mental illness and are usually temporary and reversible.Delirium involves a rapid alternation between mental states (for example, from lethargy to agitation and back to lethargy), withattention disruption, disorganized thinking, disorientation, changes in sensation and perception, and other symptoms.Disorders that cause delirium are numerous and varied. They may include conditions that deprive the brain of oxygen or othersubstances. Delirium may be caused by diseases of body systems other than the brain, by poisons, by fluid/electrolyte oracid/base disturbances, and by other serious, acute conditions.


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Signs & Symptoms

- attention disturbance (disrupted or wandering attention)- inability to maintain goal directed, purposeful thinking or behavior- inability to concentrate- disorganized thinking, evidenced by- incoherent speech- inability to stop speech patterns or behaviors- disorientation to time or place- changes in sensation and perception (increases the disorientation)- may precipitate illusions or hallucinations- altered level of consciousness or awareness- altered sleep patterns, drowsiness- alertness may vary, usually more alert in the morning, less alert at night (see drowsiness)- decrease in short-term memory and recall- unable to recall events since onset of delirium (anterograde amnesia)- unable to recall past events (retrograde amnesia)- changes in motor activities, movement (for example, may be lethargic or slow moving)- movements triggered by changes in the nervous system (psychomotor restlessness)- emotional or personality changes- anxiety- anger- apathy- depression- euphoria- irritability

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Prevention

Treatment of causative disorders and conditions reduces the risk of delirium.


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Treatments
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