Delirium syndrome or more popularly as delirium is a mental condition that is defined by psychiatrists as a syndrome characterized by a serious disturbance in the mental abilities of the person, which leads to a reduction in environmental awareness and confusion.

Its onset is sudden, often occurs within a few hours or a few days, and can be scary, both for the person experiencing it and for those around them.

Mental status is often due to the clinical manifestations of severe ongoing or chronic illness, invasive treatment, major surgery, infection, use of strong medications, or alcohol abuse.

Symptoms of the syndrome are usually very similar to those of dementia, so it is very important to get the opinion of a family member or other close person to make the correct diagnosis.

What are the symptoms?

Signs and symptoms appear within a short period of time, from a few hours to a few days.

They are often characterized by dips and peaks within the day, so it is possible that at a certain point the affected person does not show any symptoms.

Decreased environmental awareness can lead to:

• Inability to focus on one particular thing and frequently change the activities being carried out;

• Easily distracted by unimportant things;

• When conducting a conversation, the affected person does not answer his questions, but strongly focuses his attention on one idea, appearing obsessed from the side;

• Wandering in search of help;

• Development of apathy, physical and mental activity are weak or almost absent, reaction to environmental irritations is sluggish;

Weakening of mental abilities – cognitive impairment, which may look like:

• Weakening of memory, especially short-term;

• Disorientation – loss of idea of ​​spatial or temporal position;

• Difficulty speaking or saying the same words repeatedly;

• Speech is difficult to understand by others;

• Writing and reading become a serious difficulty for those affected;

Behavior changes

• Those affected see things that are not there – hallucinations;

• Restlessness, anxiety, irritability or aggressive behavior;

• Extreme emotions such as fear, anxiety, anger or depression;

What are the causes?

A mental condition occurs when the normal sending and receiving of nerve signals to and from the brain breaks down. This is most likely caused by a combination of factors that make the brain vulnerable and impair its function.

Any condition or illness that requires hospitalization, especially in an intensive care unit, increases the risk of delirium. The most common causes are dehydration, infections such as urinary tract infections, skin, abdominal infections and pneumonia.

Examples of other conditions which increase the risk of delirium are:

• Dementia;
• Advanced age;
• Fever and acute, ongoing infection especially in children;
• Previous attacks of the syndrome;
• Visual or hearing impairments;< br/> • Poor nutrition or dehydration;
• Severe, chronic or terminal illness;
• Multiple medical problems or the need for multiple procedures;
• Therapy with the administration of multiple medications;
br/> • Abuse of alcohol or drugs;

Treatment of delirium

The first goal of treatment is to prevent possible underlying causes of the mental condition and its triggers – for example, stopping a medication or treating the infection.

Therapy then focuses on creating the right environment to heal the body and to calm the brain.

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