What are the treatment options for delirium?

Updated: Apr 25, 2019
  • Author: Kannayiram Alagiakrishnan, MD, MBBS, MPH, MHA; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
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Answer

The goal of treatment is to determine the cause of the delirium and stop or reverse it. Components of delirium management include supportive therapy and pharmacologic management.

Fluid and nutrition should be given carefully because the patient may be unwilling or physically unable to maintain a balanced intake. For the patient suspected of having alcohol toxicity or alcohol withdrawal, management should include multivitamins, especially thiamine.

Reorientation techniques or memory cues such as a calendar, clocks, and family photos may be helpful. The environment should be stable, quiet, and well-lighted.

Delirium that causes injury to the patient or others should be treated with medications. The most common medications used are antipsychotic medications. Benzodiazepines often are used for withdrawal states.

See Treatment and Medication for more detail.


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