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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Delirium


Alternate Names : Acute Confusion, Acute Delirium

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Delirium can be caused by many medical conditions. It describes the confused state of mind in a person. With delirium, the person may be unable to maintain attention, and thinking may be disorganized. The brain is unable to process information in the proper way.

What is going on in the body?

A person with delirium is unable to focus attention or reply correctly to questions. Delirium usually comes on quickly and needs to be assessed and treated right away. It can usually be turned around once the cause is known. Delirium is more common in older people and may uncover dementia that wasn't noticed before.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

Delirium can be caused by many things including:

  • abnormal sodium, chloride, ammonia, or other electrolyte levels in the blood
  • alcohol or drugs
  • head injury
  • liver or kidney failure, such as acute renal failure
  • low blood glucose
  • low oxygen levels in the blood
  • poisonings
  • seizures
  • severe dehydration
  • severe infections, such as a blood infection known as sepsis
  • withdrawal from drugs or alcohol


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    Delirium: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Terry Mason, MPH
    Reviewer: Vincent J. Toups, MD
    Date Reviewed: 05/07/01

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