What are the signs and symptoms of delirium?

Updated: Sep 19, 2018
  • Author: Richard D Shin, MD; Chief Editor: Gil Z Shlamovitz, MD, FACEP  more...
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Answer

Delirium presents with acute onset of impaired awareness, easy distractability, confusion, and disturbances of perception (eg, illusions, misinterpretations or visual hallucinations). Recent memory is usually deficient, and the patient is typically disoriented to time and place. Level of awareness may range from hypervigilant and agitated to obtunded, and abnormalities of congition and behavior may fluctuate dramatically over brief periods. Speech may be incoherent, pressured, nonsensical, perseverating, or rambling. Obtaining a reliable history from a delirious patient may be difficult or impossible. Patients with delirium have difficulty maintaining attention and/or shifting the focus of their attention.


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