Advertisement

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.

Continue Learning about Mental Health

Guilt-Free Ways to Say No
Guilt-Free Ways to Say No
Photo Credit: Martin Howard, via Flickr Creative Commons “Crazy busy” has become the new hip designation for those with packed schedules and over-ext...
Read More
How is a person's psychological history determined?
Philip Lisagor, MDPhilip Lisagor, MD
Your doctor may ask the following questions when reviewing your psychological history: Have you ...
More Answers
4 Simple Ways to Avoid Feeling Lonely
4 Simple Ways to Avoid Feeling Lonely4 Simple Ways to Avoid Feeling Lonely4 Simple Ways to Avoid Feeling Lonely4 Simple Ways to Avoid Feeling Lonely
Loneliness and isolation can have serious health effects—but being proactive goes a long way.
Start Slideshow
What Does the Funding for Children's Mental Health Look Like?
What Does the Funding for Children's Mental Health Look Like?

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.