Delirium is an acute confusional state that results from a sudden change in cerebral function. It occurs when there is an impairment in the normal signal pathway in the brain and it is usually temporary and reversible. Delirium manifests clinically as a wide range of neural and psychiatric abnormalities.
Obtaining a thorough history is very important for diagnosis of this condition as there are no medical investigations that can diagnose delirium. Delirious patients are often confused and unable to provide accurate information so the history should be obtained from relatives and caregivers. Some of the symptoms that would be mentioned are disorientation, difficulty is maintaining concentration, shifting attention, illusions, reversal in sleep-wake cycle and hallucinations. These symptoms are usually worse at night and show improvement during the day. Other neurological symptoms that could be reported are motor abnormalities, uremia, tremors, dysarthria and dysphagia .
Elderly patients who present with symptoms of delirium usually have an underlying illness precipitating it.
Entire Body System
Sepsis is the 11th leading cause of death in the United ... read more [sciencedaily.com]
We considered delirium in the absence of hypoxia, sepsis, sedation, and metabolic dysfunction to be unclassified. 3 and 12 months after discharge, we assessed cognition with the Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (RBANS [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
Cocaine-induced excited delirium refers to fatal cocaine intoxication with the following symptoms occurring sequentially: hyperthermia, delirium with agitation, respiratory arrest, and death. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
Dehydration, hyperthermia, and a dangerous condition that affects the kidneys called rhabdomyolysis can occur as a result of using Flakka. [medicinenet.com]
Withdrawal of ethanol leads to increased activity of these excitatory neuroreceptors, resulting in the clinical manifestations of ethanol withdrawal: tremors, agitation, hallucinations, seizures, tachycardia, hyperthermia, and hypertension. [emedicine.medscape.com]
Extremes of sensory experience - eg, hypothermia or hyperthermia. Visual or hearing problems. Poor mobility. Social isolation. Stress. Terminally ill. Movement to a new environment. ICU admission. Urea/creatinine abnormalities. [patient.info]
- Weight Gain
Twenty-one dishes in two days = two-pound weight gain. [frolichawaii.com]
But if used for a long time, the newer drugs may cause weight gain and abnormal fat (lipid) levels (hyperlipidemia) and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. [msdmanuals.com]
gain and hyperlipidemia and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. [merckmanuals.com]
- Weight Loss
We describe a 2-year clinical journey that started with a fall and was additionally complicated by severe weight loss and acute kidney injury (AKI). [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
—Andrew Cockburn, Harper’s Magazine, 5 Jan. 2023 From here, symptoms can become progressively more severe, expanding to include jaundice, pancreatic inflammation, severe weight loss, delirium, shock, liver failure, massive hemorrhaging, and multi-organ [merriam-webster.com]
See pictures of which 15 cancer symptoms men ignore such as skin changes, difficulty swallowing, rapid weight loss, a breast... [medicinenet.com]
Weight loss occurs because of an intense desire to be thin, a fear of gaining weight, or a disturbance in the way in which the individual sees her body weight or shape. [britannica.com]
- Acute Onset of Symptoms
A formal cognitive assessment and history of acute onset of symptoms are necessary for diagnosis. [thelancet.com]
A standardized tool, the Confusion Assessment method (CAM), provides a brief, validated diagnostic algorithm that is currently in widespread use for the identification of delirium.52,53 The CAM algorithm relies on the presence of acute onset of symptoms [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
In addition to its use for these indications olanzapine has also been used in the management of chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting and otherwise difficult to control nausea and vomiting in palliative care settings. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
There are several potential causes of these imbalances: Hypercalcemia, which is too much calcium in the blood Dehydration from not taking in enough fluids because of nausea, vomiting, or not being able to swallow comfortably. [cancer.net]
Certain medications used along with cancer treatment such as opioids (strong pain medication), steroids, medications used to prevent or treat nausea or allergies, appetite stimulants, or sleep medications. [cancer.org]
We did not find any clear differences between the two groups in terms of duration of delirium ( MD -3.6, 95% CI -15.6 to 8.4), adverse events (nausea, RR 0.30, 95% CI 0.01 to 6.29), use of rescue medications ( RR 0.13, 95% CI 0.01 to 2.1), mortality [cochrane.org]
- Loss of Appetite
The presence of loss of appetite for more than two weeks may be the key to a diagnosis of WE. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
[…] of appetite Nausea, vomiting Nervousness, jumpiness, shakiness, palpitations (sensation of feeling the heart beat) Pale skin Rapid emotional changes Sweating, especially on the palms of the hands or the face Other symptoms that may occur: Chest pain [medlineplus.gov]
Some of the symptoms and warning signs of teen drug abuse include reddened whites of eyes, paranoia, sleepiness, excessive happiness, seizures, memory loss, increased appetite, discolored fingertips, lips or teeth, and irritability. [medicinenet.com]
Falling and loss of appetite are often warning signs for delirium. Behaviour changes (over hours to days) may include: Altered cognitive function: disoriented, memory and language impairment, worsened concentration, slow responses, and confusion. [patient.info]
[…] of appetite, and disturbed sleep. [britannica.com]
- Abdominal Pain
Are there any new physical symptoms — for example, chest or abdominal pain? The doctor will ask additional questions based on your responses and the person's symptoms and needs. [mayoclinic.org]
pain, abdominal distention, history of cirrhosis Liver function tests; measurement of lipase level and ammonia levels Infection suspected Blood cultures, complete blood count, chest radiography, computed tomography, lumbar puncture, urinalysis with culture [aafp.org]
The sufferer experiences palpitations, dry mouth, dilatation of the pupils, shortness of breath, sweating, abdominal pain, tightness in the throat, trembling, and dizziness. [britannica.com]
[…] anxiety, nightmares), in a very few cases resulting in accidental injury or fatal outcomes en Other medically significant sequelae of overdose include delirium, convulsion, coma, possible neuroleptic malignant syndrome, respiratory depression, aspiration, hypertension [sk.glosbe.com]
DTs is the most severe manifestation of alcohol withdrawal and clinical manifestations include agitation, global confusion, disorientation, hallucinations, fever, hypertension, diaphoresis, and autonomic hyperactivity (tachycardia and hypertension). [emedicine.medscape.com]
In the multivariate analysis hypertension, smoking history, abnormal bilirubin level, epidural use and morphine were statistically significantly associated with delirium. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
[…] discharge and higher nursing home placement rates PATHOPHYSIOLOGY complex and poorly understood altered cerebral blood flow numerous biomarkers e.g. s100beta protein, neuron specific enolase, ILs RISK-FACTORS Baseline age preexisting dementia history of hypertension [lifeinthefastlane.com]
[…] hemorrhage, tumour, seizure disorder, Parkinson’s) H ypoxia (anemia, cardiac failure, pulmonary embolus) D eficiencies (vitamin B 12, folic acid, thiamine) E ndocrinopathies (thyroid, glucose, parathyroid, adrenal) A cute vascular (shock, vasculitis, hypertensive [fammedref.org]
Its importance cannot be overemphasized, for acute confusion is a far more common herald of the onset of physical illness in an older person than are, for example, fever, pain or tachycardia." 7 The elderly, especially the very old, are uniquely prone [doi.org]
During withdrawal from alcohol, the loss of GABA-A receptor stimulation causes a reduction in chloride flux and is associated with tremors, diaphoresis, tachycardia, anxiety, and seizures. [emedicine.medscape.com]
A focused assessment is often needed, with particular attention paid to vital signs (hypo/hypertension, fever/hypothermia, tachycardia, tachypnea), the state of hydration (mucus membranes, skin turgor), skin condition (decubiti, cellulitis) and potential [clinicaladvisor.com]
[…] symptoms of hypo- or hyperglycemia Measurement of thyroid-stimulating hormone and serum glucose levels; measurement of serum cortisol level or adrenocorticotropic hormone stimulation test Environmental exposure: shivering, hypo- or hypertension, brady- or tachycardia [aafp.org]
In chronic alcoholism, attacks of delirium tremens (DTs), marked by hallucinations, sweating, trembling, and anxiety, may persist for several days. [onlinerecnik.com]
She is said to smell of sweat, late nights, sour wine, and old leather. Her sigil in the galleries of the other Endless is a multicolored, abstract swirl. [sandman.wikia.com]
[…] en They braved many hardships, such as recurrent attacks of malaria, with its symptoms of shivering, sweating, and delirium. sk Tu ide o česť nášho kráľovstva en In patients with influenza who were receiving Tamiflu, there have been postmarketing reports [sk.glosbe.com]
Fatigue Headache Insomnia (difficulty falling and staying asleep) Irritability or excitability Loss of appetite Nausea, vomiting Nervousness, jumpiness, shakiness, palpitations (sensation of feeling the heart beat) Pale skin Rapid emotional changes Sweating [medlineplus.gov]
Unfocused and distracted selectivity results in chaotic cognitions and the typical symptoms of delirium. Several terms are used to describe the deficits of delirium; rarely are they defined, and often they are used loosely and inconsistently. [dictionary.cambridge.org]
To save this word, you'll need to log in. a state of wildly excited activity or emotion shoppers running around in a delirium the day before Christmas agitation, deliriousness, distraction, fever, feverishness, flap, frenzy, furor, furore, fury, hysteria [merriam-webster.com]
The essestial features of delirium include: Acute onset (hours/days) and a fluctuating course Inattention or distraction Disorganized thinking or a altered level of consciousness Treatment of delirium, like dementia, is managed both pharmacologically [hopkinsmedicine.org]
She is scatterbrained and easily distracted; she often forgets the thread of her conversations, and comes out with offbeat and seemingly inconsequential observations. [sandman.wikia.com]
[…] functions.Typical symptoms include: Reduced perceptional and sensory abilities Abrupt changes in movement (hyperactivity or slowness) Sleep cycle changes (sleeping more, drowsiness) Confusion about whereabouts and time Lack of concentration (easily distracted [verywellmind.com]
- Visual Hallucination
Although she exhibited transient visual hallucinations during the delirium, she had no overt dementia. She developed no core clinical features of DLB and died of pneumonia at the age of 90 years. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
While visual hallucinations can occur in patients with primary psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia, they are much less common than auditory hallucinations. [aafp.org]
She reveals her weaknesses even more acutely on ballads like the empowerment march “Army,” which sounds perfectly fine by itself but is the type of arms-up climax that Katy Perry or Pink could turn into pure pop euphoria. [ew.com]
Users take it to experience euphoria, but it can often lead to dangerous delusions, paranoia, and bizarre behaviors. [medicinenet.com]
EMOTIONAL LABILITY Patients with delirium may display a wide range of emotions, including anxiety, sadness or tearfulness, and euphoria. They may have more than one of these emotions during the course of delirium. [aafp.org]
[…] of the environment confusion or disorientation, especially of time memory impairment, especially of recent events hallucinations illusions and misinterpreted stimuli increased or decreased activity level mood disturbance, possibly including anxiety, euphoria [medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com]
Altered social behaviour: intermittent and labile changes in mood and/or emotions (eg fear, paranoia, anxiety, depression, irritability, apathy, anger, or euphoria). [patient.info]
- Aggressive Behavior
The forensic pathologist should consider cocaine-induced excited delirium when an individual exhibits aggressive behavior, unexpected strength, and resistance to pain who dies suddenly. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
[…] issues Escalating physically aggressive behavior or threats of violence Persistent danger to self or others Table 9. [aafp.org]
Noradrenergic changes, aggressive behavior, and cognition in patients with dementia. Biol. Psychiatry 51, 407–416. doi: 10.1016/s0006-3223(01)01235-5 CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar Mc Donnell, S., and Timmins, F. (2012). [frontiersin.org]
- Schizoid Personality Disorder
Schizoid personality disorder In this disorder there is a disinclination to interact with others; the individual appears passive, aloof, and withdrawn, and there is a notable lack of interest in and responsiveness to interpersonal relationships. [britannica.com]
Postoperative delirium negatively impacts ... read more Blood Test May Help Predict Confusion After Surgery Jan. 11, 2017 — Many people experience an extended period of confusion when they awake after surgery. [sciencedaily.com]
(n=41) and/or (3) were identified as confused by nursing staff (n=52) and/or (4) had ‘confusion’ documented in the case notes (n=29). [doi.org]
Confusion, introduced by French workers during the second half of the century, referred to a syndrome wider than (but including) delirium. It emphasized chaotic thinking and cognitive failure. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
Those affected often become disoriented, and experience reduced awareness, confusion, and behavioral or emotional changes. Approximately half of all hospitalized older adults may experience delirium. [nursing.psu.edu]
Valproic acid was effective in treatment of agitation and well tolerated. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
Wake Up and Breathe Flowchart Choice of Analgesia and Sedation Richmond Agitation-Sedation Scale (RASS) Riker Sedation-Agitation Scale (SAS) Level of Arousal Assessment Conversions MDCalc iOS and Android app Protocol for Management of Pain, Agitation [icudelirium.org]
MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Delirium was detected using the Confusion Assessment Method and categorized in hypoactive, hyperactive, or mixed delirium. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
Two subtypes have been described—hyperactive and hypoactive—based on differential psychomotor features. [accessmedicine.mhmedical.com]
At times, patients are restless Patients are restless and physically hyperactive The longer delirium lasts, the higher the impact Delirium detection is complicated and confusing. [prolira.com]
Excited delirium denotes a life-threatening medical condition characterized by the acute onset of agitated and violent behavior that often results in a sudden and unexplained death. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
‘I ended up getting a digital keyboard, which was so amazing to me - excitement to the point of delirium.’ ‘The smell of incense filled the room and transported me, in my delirium, back to my youth as a Miami altar boy.’ [en.oxforddictionaries.com]
Delirium Candles are meant to elicit a calculable response when experienced; a state of uncontrolled excitement or emotion. Intoxicating, familiar, mysterious, arresting, unconventional, magnetic, hypnotic. [candledelirium.com]
[…] de·lir·i·um | \ di-ˈlir-ē-əm \ 1 : an acute (see acute sense 1a(2) ) mental disturbance characterized by confused thinking and disrupted attention usually accompanied by disordered speech and hallucinations 2 : frenzied excitement he would stride about [merriam-webster.com]
Minor alcohol withdrawal is characterized by tremor, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, and insomnia. [emedicine.medscape.com]
At 11-month follow-up, only mild executive dysfunction and persistent right postural tremor was noted, MRI showed partial regression of subcortical and juxtacortical lesions. © BMJ Publishing Group Ltd (unless otherwise stated in the text of the article [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
Symptoms may get worse quickly, and can include: Delirium, which is sudden severe confusion Body tremors Changes in mental function Agitation, irritability Deep sleep that lasts for a day or longer Excitement or fear Hallucinations (seeing or feeling [medlineplus.gov]
Alcoholic delirium—called delirium tremens because of the characteristic tremor—is a result not merely of excessive consumption of alcohol but of a complicating exhaustion, lack of food, and dehydration; prior to the outbreak of delirium, the patient [britannica.com]
[…] quiet Be unusually aggressive Use inappropriate words Be unable to pay attention or follow directions See or hear things that are not there Be unaware of their surroundings Act differently than normal Have memory problems Undergo emotional changes May tremor [centrahealth.com]
There is no one test for diagnosing delirium, but there are numerous tests that could be useful for diagnosing precipitating symptoms. Blood tests like complete blood count, sedimentation rate and bacterial/viral culture are used to rule out underlying infections. Blood tests also help to detect electrolyte derangement and problems with glucose metabolism. They are useful to determine renal, hepatic and thyroid function. Urine tests are also used to check for infections and toxicology screening to check for drugs and poisons. HIV tests and tests for vitamin B12 and thiamine are also carried out.
Imaging studies are also done to check the structure of the brain and they include CT scans and MRI. Electroencephalogram (EEG) is also useful in delirium as it may also give an indication to the cause of the delirium based on the wave patterns. A chest radiograph also is used diagnose congestive heart failure or pneumonia.
The most important step in treatment is to identify the underlying cause and eliminate it. The mainstay of delirium treatment is supportive therapy and drug therapy.
Supportive therapy involves maintaining normal hydration as nutrition levels. Thiamine should be given to patients who are undergoing alcohol withdrawal. It is important for the patient’s environment to be quiet, stable and well-lit.
Memory cues like clocks, family photos and calendars are useful in reorientation. Reorientation should be reinforced by family members. Sensory defects should be corrected as required. It is important to avoid physical restraints as it only heightens the patient’s perception of problems and could lead to combative behaviour. It is important that these patients are closely monitored and never left alone .
Medication should be considered in patients who cause injuries to themselves or others. Medications used include neuroleptics like haloperidol and risperidone and short-acting sedatives like lorazepam. Sedatives are used in patients withdrawing from alcohol or sedative hypnotics .
There are mortality rates of up to 26% in patients admitted with delirium. Patients who develop delirium in the hospital have a mortality rate of up to 76%. For post-operative and elderly patients, delirium could lead to extended hospital stay, increased complications, extra costs and disability .
Delirium is often a result of conditions that impair the supply of oxygen and other substances in the brain. Some of the causes include infections like urinary tract infections (UTI) and pneumonia, dehydration, metabolic derangements, withdrawal symptoms from alcohol and drugs, drug toxicity, chemicals, seizures, head injuries, surgeries and chronic illnesses amongst others .
It is a fairly common condition and is seen is about 14 to 56% of hospitalized elderly patients. Up to 30% of cases develop after admission and 40% of patients admitted to intensive care units develop delirium. The prevalence of post-surgical delirium is also high with as high as 40% of patients developing delirium after orthopaedic surgery. Delirium is also very common in nursing home residents and as much as 80% of people develop delirium near death. It has no race or sex predilection .
There are 3 recognizable delirium types based on the state of arousal. Hyperactive delirium is associated with intoxication with some stimulant drugs or withdrawal from alcohol. Hypoactive delirium is seen in patients with hepatic encephalopathy. In the third type, mixed delirium, there is usually sedation during the day and at night, patients develop behavioural problems.
There has been no clear understanding of the mechanism by which delirium occurs as it results from various psychological and physical insults. The widely accepted hypothesis is that there are multiple neurotransmitter abnormalities and reversible impairment of the cerebral oxidative mechanism. Observations such as reduced cholinesterase activity and increased dopaminergic activity support the hypothesis of neurotransmitter abnormalities .
There is no specific prevention for delirium as it is a consequence of various other conditions. The preventive measures implemented for specific conditions which cause disturbance in cerebral function can indirectly prevent delirium.
- Definition: Delirium is a sudden change in brain function that results when there is an interruption in the sending and receiving of signals in the brain. It is characterised by hallucinations and decreased awareness.
- Cause: Delirium is often seen in patients who have prolonged stay in the hospital, especially the intensive care unit. It is caused by a problem with neurotransmitter function and a problem with oxygen mechanism in the brain. Some of the things that could lead to this include infections, drugs and drug withdrawal, seizures, head injuries, surgeries and long term illnesses.
- Symptoms: Some of symptoms to look out for include change in mood, difficulty concentrating, hallucinations, confusion, change in sleep pattern, movement disorders and incontinence.
- Diagnosis: This is usually made based on the symptoms and sign. Some tests may however be needed to check for the possible causes. Blood tests will check for infection, glucose level, electrolyte level, and the kidney, liver and thyroid functions. Imaging studies may also be carried out on the brain to check the structure and activity.
- Treatment: The treatment is usually supportive. The family members and caregivers are essential for this step. It involves helping the patient remember and slowly integrate him into his normal life. Fluid and nutrition are given and drugs are used in some special cases .
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- Anderson CP, Ngo LH, Marcantonio ER. Complications in Postacute Care Are Associated with Persistent Delirium. J Am Geriatr Soc. May 30 2012
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- Inouye SK, Charpentier PA. Precipitating factors for delirium in hospitalized elderly persons. Predictive model and interrelationship with baseline vulnerability. JAMA. Mar 20 1996;275(11):852-7.