Delirium is a confused state of mind that can occur suddenly. It is important to understand this so that you can deal with this.
Delirium is also considered to be a serious disturbance in the mental abilities of an individual. This leads to reduced awareness and confused thinking of the surroundings. This starts rapidly, within a few days or even a few hours.
Some of the contributing factors to this mental state can be a chronic illness, infection, medication, intoxication of drugs or alcohol, or even withdrawal. To ensure a proper diagnosis is made it is important that the family member gives accurate information to the doctor.
What are the Symptoms of Delirium?
As mentioned, delirium symptoms can start within a few hours or a few days. There might be a span of time when the patient seems absolutely normal. The symptoms seem to get worse during the night time. This is because things tend to look less familiar in the dark. Some of the Primary symptoms of Delirium are
- Getting stuck to a certain idea instead of carrying on a conversation
- Switching topics or the inability to stay on a topic
- Withdrawn with no response to the environment.
- Getting distracted with things that are not important.
Thinking skills are poor. This can appear as disorientation, not remembering recent events, nonsense speech and rambling, trouble in understanding and talking.
There are behavioral changes that include being withdrawn and quiet, hallucinations, lethargy, agitation and restlessness, sleeping habits are disturbed, calling out and making other sounds.
The emotional changes with a person suffering from delirium include fear, anxiety, anger and irritability, unpredictable moods, euphoria, depression, and changes in personality.
Types of Delirium
There are two types of delirium
- a) Hyperactive delirium: the person tends to become overactive
- b) Hypoactive Delirium: the person is under-active. This means the person is slow to respond and sleepy.
What to do if you believe a person has got Delirium?
If someone close to you gets confused and you believe that he/she got delirium, it is advisable to call emergency services. This is all the more important if you observe signs or symptoms of other illnesses. You need to check the blood sugar level if you know that the person is suffering from diabetes. If the reading is low you can give them some sweets but in case the reading is high they need to get admitted to the hospital immediately.
What can cause Delirium?
The individual with the symptoms of delirium might be having an asthma attack or a stroke. There are different head injuries that can trigger delirium. It is important that a qualified and experienced doctor diagnoses this and tells you what the reason was.
Complications with Delirium
Delirium can last for a few hours or can continue for a few weeks or even months. It is important to address the issues related to delirium, and then the recovery time can work out shorter.
The recovery depends on the mental and physical health of the individual. Those suffering from dementia experience a significant decline in their thinking skills and memory. Those in good health can recover faster.
Individuals suffering from terminal or chronic illnesses might not be able to regain the functioning or the levels of thinking skills that they had before delirium.
Those suffering from serious health issues can experience a general decline in health with delirium. They also might need institutional care and have an increased risk of death.
The Risk Factors
A hospital stay due to some health problem can increase the risk of delirium. This is common in older adults.
The other conditions that can increase the risk of delirium are
- Previous episodes of delirium
- Hearing or Visual impairment
- Brain disorders like stroke, dementia, or even Parkinson’s disease.
How to Prevent Delirium?
The best way to prevent delirium is to focus on the risk factors that can trigger off an episode of delirium. Hospital environments are very challenging. Invasive procedures, changing of rooms, lack of natural light, and other factors tend to worsen confusion.
Studies have proved that specific strategies can help prevent delirium. You need to ensure that the individual forms good sleeping habits and is kept calm and oriented.