– impaired consciousness and cognition that develops somewhat rapidly
over the course of several hours or days.
- Appear confused, disoriented, out of touch with their surrounding, have difficulty
focusing and sustaining attention, and show marked impairments in memory and
About 10% to 30% of persons in acute care facilities, such as emergency rooms,
are believed to suffer from delirium.
It is most prevalent among older adults,
people undergoing medical procedures, cancer patients, and persons with AIDS.
- 44% of persons with dementia suffer at least one episode of delirium.
- Delirium subsides quickly, with full recovery expected within several weeks.
- However, some continue to have problems and may lapse into coma or die.
linked with delirium include drug intoxication, poisons,
withdrawal from drugs (e.g., alcohol, sedative, hypnotic, or anxiolytic drugs),
infections, head injury, and several forms of brain trauma.
recognizes several causes of delirium among its subtypes.
Delirium due to a general medical condition
– disturbance of
consciousness and a change in cognitive abilities (e.g., language, memory)
occurring over a short period of time; resulting from a general medical
Other subtypes include
delirium due to
delirium not otherwise specified
The latter two
categories indicate the complex nature of delirium.
Delirium is common in the elderly as a consequence of improper use of
medications. Can also be experienced by children who have high fevers or
who are taking certain kinds of medications.
is an important factor in delirium, with older adults being more
susceptible to developing delirium as a result of mild infection or medication
changes compared to younger persons.
Sleep deprivation, immobility, and excessive stress can also cause delirium