Doctors look for signs of delirium while treating patients in the hospital
By Sarah Te Slaa, Multimedia Producer/ Anchor - email
Doctors look for signs of delirium in patients.
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -
The lights and the sounds in a hospital can be pretty confusing for patients. Add that confusion and discomfort on top of being sick and it's easy for delirium to set in.
"Delirium is a change in the patient's perception of reality or where they are at," says Dr. Ross Bacon with Mercy Medical Center.
Dr. Bacon says delirium can take several forms.
"It can be anything from agitation or mild confusion, hallucinations, and trying to get out of bed to becoming paranoid."
It's pretty common for patients to experience delirium while in the hospital, especially the intensive care unit.
"Sometimes it's related to how sick the patient is. The sicker someone is, then the more confused they may become. It can be either related to blood pressure changes, fevers, or just something that is related to the illness itself."
Delirium is usually temporary and the effects are most often reversible, but it's a condition doctors pay close attention to when treating patients in the hospital. It can happen to anyone, but Dr. Bacon says it tends to happen more often in older patients. It may also depend on how sick the patient is.
"People with kidney problems, breathing problems, electrolyte problems all of those things can lead to a certain degree of confusion and disorientation and it just depends on how many different things are going on," says Dr. Bacon.
There's not much you can do to prepare for delirium or avoid it, but doctors immediately look for what's causing it.
"The biggest attempts to try to avoid it is trying to treat the underlying medical conditions and what those are if there have been some changes in the patient's blood and body chemistry that can affect how confused someone may be, so trying to correct all of those problems may make a difference," says Bacon.
Delirium can set in quickly and having family around can be helpful.
"Often the medical providers in the hospital don't know the person and what they are like normally and so subtle changes the family will often pick up before we will," says Dr. Bacon.
Dr. Bacon also says it's important for patients to get as much sleep as possible while at the hospital. That, too, can help keep the condition away.
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