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Acute Delirium


Acute delirium is temporary confusion and change in consciousness. Consciousness is how alert and aware of your surroundings you are. You may have trouble remembering, listening, or doing things you usually do. Acute delirium may be caused by an illness, injury, surgery, medicine, or alcohol or drug use.


Call 911 for the following:

  • You want to harm yourself or others.

Seek immediate care if:

  • You cannot eat or drink, and you feel weak or dizzy.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have trouble remembering.

  • You have trouble sleeping.

  • You are depressed.


You may need any of the following:

  • Antipsychotics help you stop seeing or hearing things that are not there.

  • Benzodiazepines are used if your delirium occurs after you suddenly stop using drugs or drinking alcohol.

  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Ask for help if you have a drug or alcohol problem. You may need several appointments to see if your treatment is working. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.


  • Talk to counselors. Healthcare providers will work with you to help you feel calm and talk about your thoughts and feelings. They will help you remember where you are. They will work to keep you and those around you safe.

  • Talk to family and friends. Talk to those around you when you feel lonely or sad. Ask for help when you forget the time, place, or names of people around you.

  • Change your surroundings. Keep your home or room quiet and comfortable. Surround yourself with familiar objects. Keep a calendar and clock nearby to remind you of the date and time. Keep pictures of your family and friends nearby. This will help you stay aware of yourself and the area around you. It may also help you feel safe and calm.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Acute Delirium (Discharge Care)