Delirium

Monday, December 13, 2010

Delirium is a common and severe condition that can include sudden severe confusion and rapid changes in brain function that occur with physical or mental illness. Dr. Edward Hill discusses delirium in todays 60 Second Housecall.

Dr. Hill:

Delirium is a disturbance of consciousness characterized by altered or shifting mental status and inattention.

Delirium also changes basic mental functions such as memory impairment, disorientation to time or place and language disturbance. There also may be disturbances of perception such as hallucinations, abnormal speech, abnormal movements, disruptive or violent behavior and sudden shifts in emotions.

To qualify for a diagnosis of delirium, the signs and symptoms must have a short onset and change over the course of the day. It is important to make a clear distinction between delirium and dementia, such as Alzheimers disease. Dementia is a disturbance in intellectual functions and memory that is usually gradually progressive over a long period.

Identifying and treating the underlying cause of delirium is essential. Psychiatric assessment and management are important, particularly in cases of delirium not easily explainable by poison exposure, medication effects or medical illness.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Im Dr. Edward Hill.