Print This Page Print This Page

1. What is  Delirium?

Delirium is an acute confusional state.  It is usually caused by an acute illness or toxic reaction. Delirium is characterized by:

  • Altered level of consciousness. People may be sleepy, having difficulty staying awake or be hyper alert and unable to sleep
  • Disorganized thinking- people may have difficulty organizing their thoughts and their sentences may not make sense
  • Perceptual problems – people may have hallucinations, vivid dreams and nightmares
  • Disorientation –  to their surroundings, times, dates and people.
  • Behavoural changes – including agitation, aggression or apathy
  • A sudden onset and fluctuating course-  People may be well in the morning and extremely confused in the afternoon and evening or vice versa

2. How common is  Delirium?

Delirium may occur in 10-30% of elderly people admitted to hospital and a smaller number of people who are ill in the community or in nursing homes

3.  What causes  Delirium?

Delirium is usually caused by an acute infection or drug reaction. However, it can be caused by any illness, alteration in internal regulation of bodily functions, head injury or sensory deprivation

4. What  can my doctor do for Delirium?

Your doctor will do a thorough assessment looking for underlying reversable causes. She or he will stop any offending drugs and treat any underlying illness.

5. What can I do for Delirium?

Delirium is a medical emergency. You should contact your doctor or health care professional as soon as you suspect this is a problem.  You may need to send the person to the emergency department of a hosptal if there will be a significant delay in getting medical care.

6.  Where can I find more information about Delirium?

National Institute of Health


Twitter IconVisit our Twitter Feed