Hospital Delirium causes disconnections with reality that may be frightening for both sufferers and witnesses. Delirium is a symptom of serious conditions, which can become life threatening. In a hospitalized patient, it should be considered a medical crisis. Outside the hospital, it indicates an underlying illness or condition that is potential if an individual is showing possible signs of delirium, loved ones should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Understanding how to detect, prevent, and treat delirium may help save lives.
There is no specific test that can be used to diagnose delirium. Doctors typically diagnose delirium after performing an examination and connecting explained symptoms to certain medical clues. Symptoms such as incoherent speech patterns and disorientation paired with occurrences such as changes in medication or evidence of dehydration often lead doctors to a delirium diagnosis.
Screening tests may be used to detect the cause of delirium following a diagnosis. Blood tests can alert doctors to an infection or nutritional deficiency. Scan tests may detect organ failures. If delirium is diagnosed and no cause can be found through other diagnostic testing, brain imaging tests may be ordered.
Treatment for delirium may vary depending on the cause. If infection is at the root of delirium, antibiotics may help to cure the infection, which will eliminate delirium symptoms. If organ failure is the cause of delirium, further evaluation may be required by a specialist.
Lifestyle changes may also be necessary to prevent future organ failure. If delirium is caused by medications or withdrawal from drugs or alcohol, a physician may aid the sufferer in safe detoxification by prescribing a program or slowly weaning the individual from the intoxicant. Vitamin deficiencies and dehydration may require intravenous therapy to safely nurse the individual back to health.
Prevention of Delirium
Individuals that may be at higher risk for developing delirium include dementia sufferers and elderly adults. Hospitalized individuals, those taking drugs or drinking alcohol regularly, and those that suffer from or have recently experienced a debilitating illness may also be more susceptible to delirium. In order to prevent delirium, individuals that are at higher risk due to these factors should work closely with physicians or trained therapists to maintain good physical health.
Lifestyle Prevention Methods
Delirium can be prevented in many individuals by maintaining proper nutrition, hydration, and exercise. Avoiding smoking, drugs, and alcohol will help to prevent many of the underlying conditions that cause delirium. If medication is prescribed that carries a high risk of delirium development, individuals should carefully monitor usage and should notify doctors of any cognitive changes.
Preventing Delirium during Hospitalization
Hospitalized individuals have shown a greater tendency towards experiencing delirium. The stress associated with the unfamiliar environment, invasive procedures, frequent loud noises, and other troubling factors have been blamed for triggering episodes of delirium in individuals. Delirium may be prevented by minimizing exposure to these stressors. There are 3 main methods to preventing delirium in a hospital environment.
- Pharmaceutical (picking the right, not wrong drug(s)
- Behavioral interventions
- Environmental interventions
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