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What are symptoms of delirium?

Delirium is an alteration or change in one's cognition, which can be otherwise defined as a change in one's orientation, memory and language. Delirium is transient, meaning it is not permanent. It has many causes, including infections, drugs, toxins, electrolyte imbalances and injuries.
Audrey K. Chun, MD
Geriatric Medicine
Delirium is an acute brain attack due to a problem in the body that alters mental status. The trigger is often a new drug or medical condition, and the change in mental function that occurs is acute, with symptoms that tend to fluctuate.

Red flags include inattention, rambling, incoherent and/or illogical speech, and an altered level of consciousness (a person with delirium may be hyper-alert or drowsy). Other symptoms include new memory problems and emotional disturbances, which may appear as fear, anger, anxiety, depression, paranoia, irritability or euphoria. Physically, the person may be hyperactive or agitated, or may be lethargic. Some patients experience hallucinations. While the symptoms of delirium and dementia are similar, delirium manifests suddenly, while dementia symptoms appear gradually, over a longer period of time.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.