Dr. Nikhil Kanase



Delirium: What to Look Out For 

What is Delirium? 

Delirium is a condition that causes sudden and severe confusion. It is usually caused by an acute medical event (such as a stroke, infection, or drug reaction) or an alteration in the environment (such as a change in location or familiar surroundings).  

It is characterized by confusion, disorientation, agitation, and altered levels of consciousness. Its symptoms can range from mild to severe and can come on suddenly or over time. 

Symptoms of Delirium 

• Disorientation  

• Confusion  

• Memory loss  

• Erratic moods  

• Difficulty concentrating  

• Impaired judgment  

• Restlessness  

• Inability to sleep  

• Slowed thinking  

• Disorganized speech  

• Poor impulse control  

• Hallucinations  

• Poor attention span 

Causes of Delirium  

-Medication side effects 

-Alcohol or Substance Abuse 


-Brain Injury 


-Hormonal Imbalance 

-Vitamin Deficiency 



-Sleep Deprivation 

-Excessive Stress 

Diagnosis of Delirium  

Patient’s medical history: This include information about any recent changes in medication, alcohol or drug use, a history of mental illness, or any recent medical or surgical procedures. 

Physical examination: This include an evaluation of vital signs and mental status, including an assessment of attention, memory, and level of consciousness.  

Laboratory tests: This include a complete blood count, chemistry panel, and urinalysis, as well as tests to detect infection or an electrolyte imbalance. In some cases, a brain imaging study such as a CT scan or MRI may be necessary to rule out any underlying conditions that may be contributing to the delirium. 

Treatment of Delirium 

Delirium is a serious medical condition and treatment options vary depending on the underlying cause of the delirium. They include- 

  • Restoring normal levels of electrolytes and vitamins 
  • Medications to treat the underlying condition or to reduce symptoms of delirium such as anxiety or agitation 
  • In severe cases, hospitalization may also be necessary 

In some cases, physical or occupational therapy may be necessary to help the patient regain normal functioning. 

Tips to Deal with Delirium  

• Have a consistent routine 

• Ensure adequate rest and nutrition 

• Stimulate senses with music and art 

• Promote social interaction 

• Treat underlying medical conditions 

• Avoid overmedication 

• Engage in meaningful activities 

• Avoid environmental stressors 

• Provide familiar surroundings 

Delirium vs. Dementia 

Dementia is a long-term disorder that causes a decline in cognitive functioning affecting memory, thinking, and social abilities. 

Delirium is a short-term mental health disorder causing sudden and severe confusion that is often caused by a medical condition or medication. 

Delirium: Myth and Fact 

Myth: Delirium is a normal part of aging. 

Fact: Delirium is not a normal part of aging and can be caused by a wide range of physical or psychological illnesses and medications. 

Delirium: Myth and Fact 

Myth: Delirium is a permanent condition. 

Fact: Delirium is a temporary condition that can be treated. With prompt medical attention, delirium can often be reversed.