Delirium

Alternative Names

Acute confusional state; Acute brain syndrome

Definition of Delirium

Delirium is sudden severe and rapid changes in brain function that occur with physical or mental illness.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Delirium is most often caused by physical or mental illness and is usually temporary and reversible. Many disorders cause delirium, including conditions that deprive the brain of oxygen or other substances.

Symptoms

Delirium involves a quick change between mental states (for example, from to agitation and back to lethargy).

Signs and tests

The following tests may have abnormal results:

Treatment

The goal of treatment is to control or reverse the cause of the symptoms. Treatment depends on the condition causing delirium. Diagnosis and care should take place in a pleasant, comfortable, nonthreatening, physically safe environment. The person may need to stay in the hospital for a short time.

Expectations (prognosis)

Acute conditions that cause delirium may occur with chronic disorders that cause . Acute brain syndromes may be reversible by treating the cause.

Review

David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Luc Jasmin, MD, PhD, Department of Neurolosurgery, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, and Department of Anatomy at UCSF, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 2/6/2010

Central nervous system

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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