ABC Medical Center > Delirium

What is Delirium?

21:54 - 4 May , 2021


It is a mental disorder in which mental clarity is affected, causing confusion in the reasoning processes and a loss of awareness of reality.

It usually manifests quickly, so delusional episodes can appear in a matter of minutes or hours, which are caused by an anomaly in the signal transmission and capture processes that can be due to various causes, individual or combined, such as:

  • Head injuries.
  • Stroke.
  • Severe dehydration.
  • Lack of sleep.
  • Nervous breakdowns.
  • Anesthetics.
  • Intoxication by drugs or poisonous substances.
  • Drug addiction and alcoholism, as well as withdrawal processes from both addictions.
  • Heart attack.
  • Respiratory insufficiency.
  • Excessive loss of electrolytes.
  • Extremely serious or terminal conditions.
  • Intense fever.
  • Serious infections.
  • Serious malnutrition.

Due to the similarity of symptoms, delirium can sometimes be confused with dementia, so the doctor requires the support of the patient’s relatives or caregivers to know their clinical history and the evolution of the delusional episode.

Signs and symptoms Delirium

Normally, the symptoms vary in intensity during the day, where there may even be periods of mental clarity, but the most common symptoms are:

  • Loss of awareness of reality.
  • Lack of ability to concentrate.
  • Obsessive thoughts.
  • Social isolation.
  • Short-term memory loss.
  • Confusion.
  • Problems speaking or understanding spoken language.
  • Incoherence.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Insomnia.
  • Paranoia.
  • Distress.
  • Depression.
  • Wrath.
  • Apathy.
  • Abrupt mood and personality changes.

Diagnosis and treatment Delirium

Once the specialist analyzes the symptoms and clinical history based on what the patient’s relatives have stated, they will perform a psychological evaluation, as well as a physical and neurological examination to determine the possible causes of the delirium, supported by blood and urine tests, in addition to imaging studies such as MRI and computed tomography if required.

Treatment focuses on alleviating the direct and indirect cause(s) of delirium, then addressing the brain processes and returning them to normal through medications and psychological therapy.

At the Neurological Center, a select group of highly trained and certified doctors in the various neurological specialties are ready to assist you with the quality and warmth that characterizes us.

Nervous system specialties

  • Neurology
  • Neurosurgery
  • Spine surgery
  • Pediatric neurosurgery
  • Neurophysiology
  • Neuro-rehabilitation
  • Neuro-pathology
  • Interventional neuro-radiology
  • Neuropsychology
  • Neuro-oncology
  • Neuro-otology
  • Epilepsy
  • Neuro-ophthalmology
  • Neuroimaging


  • clevelandclinic.org
  • topdoctors.es 
  • mayocilinic.org 
  • medlineplus.gov
  • niddk.nih.gov
  • medigraphic.com
  • Fernández PM, Quevedo-Blasco R, Buela-Casal G. Diferencias en el estilo atribucional y de la autoestima en una muestra de pacientes delirantes. Salud Mental. 2010;33(6):527-534.
  • Chávez-Delgado ME, Virgen-Enciso M, Pérez-Guzmán J, et al. Detection of Delirium in Hospitalized Elderly Patients Using the Confusion Assessment Method. Rev Med Inst Mex Seguro Soc. 2007;45(4):321-328.
  • Paizano VG, Araya OA, Chacón DS. Pharmacological treatment of delirium in the elderly. Revista Médica Sinergia. 2021;6(10):.
  • Recasens LMJ, Villamor OA, Sanz DMT, et al. Eficacia de un plan de cuidados de enfermería específico para el paciente con delirio. Rev Cuba Enf. 2019;35(1):1-11.

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    The dissemination of the content of this material is for informational purposes only and does not replace, under any circumstance or condition, a consultation with a specialist doctor, for which the ABC Medical Center is not responsible for the different use that may be given to it. If you require more information related to the subject, we suggest you contact the specialist doctor you trust directly.