Delirium is more common in older adults. Other things that may raise the risk are:
- Having severe health problems, such as dementia, stroke, seizures, or tumors
- Having infections, such as pneumonia or a urinary tract infection
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- A head injury
- A severe lack of sleep or fluids
- Problems passing stool
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. A cognitive exam will also be done. This may be enough to make the diagnosis.
These tests may be done when more information is needed:
- Blood and urine tests
- An MRI or CT scan to take pictures of the brain
Most people will get better when the cause of the delirium is treated, such as treating an infection. Symptoms may also need to be treated. This can be done with:
Some medicine may need to be stopped or changed.
Medicines to treat delirium may be:
- Benzodiazepines to treat alcohol or drug withdrawal
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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American Psychiatric Association http://www.psychiatry.org
National Institute of Mental Health http://www.nimh.nih.gov
Canadian Psychiatric Association http://www.cpa-apc.org
Canadian Psychological Association http://www.cpa.ca
Delirium in hospitalized patients. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/delirium-in-hospitalized-patients . Updated September 24, 2019. Accessed October 18, 2019.
Inouye SK, Westendorp RG, et al. Delirium in elderly people. Lancet. 2014 Mar 8;383(9920):911-22, commentary can be found in Lancet 2014 Jun 14;383(9934):2044.
Inouye SK, Westendorp RG, et al. Delirium in elderly people. Lancet. 2014 Mar 8;383(9920):911-922.
4/29/2016 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116623/Delirium-in-hospitalized-patients : Litton E, Carnegie V, et al. The efficacy of earplugs as a sleep hygiene strategy for reducing delirium in the ICU: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Crit Care Med. 2016;44(5):992-999.