Delirium is a condition that features rapidly changing mental states. It causes confusion and changes in behavior. Besides falling in and out of consciousness, there may be problems with
- Attention and awareness
- Thinking and memory
- Muscle control
- Sleeping and waking
Delirium and dementia have similar symptoms, so it can be hard to tell them apart. They can also occur together. Delirium starts suddenly and can cause hallucinations. The symptoms may get better or worse, and can last for hours or weeks. On the other hand, dementia develops slowly and does not cause hallucinations. The symptoms are stable, and may last for months or years.
Delirium tremens is a serious type of alcohol withdrawal syndrome. It usually happens to people who stop drinking after years of alcohol abuse.
People with delirium often, though not always, make a full recovery after their underlying illness is treated.
- Delirium (Merck & Co., Inc.) Also in Spanish
- Delirium (Beyond the Basics) (UpToDate)
- Delirium (PDQ) (National Cancer Institute) Also in Spanish
- Delirium: Issues for Older Adults (AGS Foundation for Health in Aging)
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Also in Spanish
- The Dilemma of Delirium in Older Patients (National Institute on Aging)
- What to Ask: Delirium (AGS Foundation for Health in Aging)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Delirium (National Institutes of Health)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Alcohol Withdrawal Assessment Tool: Validity and Reliability Testing in Acute...
- Article: Elimination of Routine Benzodiazepine Administration for Nonprocedural Sedation in a...
- Article: Cholinesterase inhibitors for the treatment of delirium in non-ICU settings.
- Delirium -- see more articles