Acute confusional state, also known as delirium, is a common and severe neuropsychiatric syndrome characterized by attention deficits and generalized severe disorganization of behavior. Acute confusional state has various signs and symptoms, and often includes cognitive deficits, changes in arousal and mood, changes in perception and sleep-wake cycle, as well as hallucinations and delusions. It is important to understand that acute confusional state isn’t a disease itself. It is rather a set of symptoms, also known as syndrome that results from some other underlying disease or process outside the brain.
Causes of acute confusional state
Acute confusional state is often caused by disease processes that have nothing to with the brain. Sometimes it occurs with infection, or upon the use of certain medications. Acute confusional state may also result from any kind of shock or trauma to the brain: eclectic shock, fever, exposure to toxins, brain injury, surgery, traumatic shock or lack of food and sleep. Withdrawal symptoms associated with abrupt discontinuation or a decrease in dosage of the intake of medications, recreational drugs or alcohol can also cause delirium. Some mental disorders, especially mania, can cause rapid changes in cognitive function and ability to focus. Delirium here results as a mental side-effect or symptom.Symptoms of acute confusional state
Delirium is typically characterized by rapid changes between mental states. Patient may seem very lethargic only to become extremely agitated, after a couple of minutes, and rapidly fall back to lethargy. Their levels of consciousness and awareness are usually disturbed, and they usually have drastic changes in movement. Patients may become slow moving or even hyperactive. In addition, they are typically disorientated about time and place, and they are losing the ability to remember the events that occurred since the onset of delirium. Patients show signs of disorganized thinking, speaking in the manner that doesn’t make any sense, acting like they have no control over the unusual speech patterns and behaviors. Their emotional and personal image is also changed as patients rapidly alternate between anger and agitation, anxiety and apathy, depression and euphoria, etc.
Treatment for acute confusional state
Treatment for delirium includes two separate strategies. First, and the most important, is to address the underlying cause of acute confusional state. Second strategy involves making suitable conditions for the brain by ensuring proper oxidation, hydration and nutrition. Patient will stay in the safe environment where medical experts will do their best to make the individual feel safe and recover with no complications whatsoever.