Delirium is a common and serious condition that can affect a person’s ability to function normally. It causes a decreased awareness of surroundings and confused thinking. The onset of delirium is usually sudden and can occur within hours or a few days.
Delirium can be caused by one or more factors including:
severe or chronic medical illness
drug or alcohol abuse
a recent admission to an institutional setting.
The symptoms of delirium and dementia can be similar so it is important that information about the affected person is given to health care providers so that an accurate diagnosis can be made. Helpful information includes a description of what the affected person is normally like, and what changes have been observed.
Symptoms of delirium can include:
an inability to stay focused on a topic
having wandering attention or getting stuck on an idea rather than responding to questions