During illness, hospitalization, or recovery, some people
experience delirium, a rapidly developing and severe confusion
accompanied by altered consciousness and an inability to focus.
It's one of the most common complications of hospitalization
among older people, affecting as many as 20% of those ages 65 and
over who are admitted to hospitals.
There are different types of delirium. In hyperactive delirium,
people may become agitated, noisy, prone to hallucination, and
possibly belligerent. This type of delirium is more typical of
withdrawal from alcohol or psychoactive drugs, but occurs
relatively rarely in people who have delirium related to illness
or hospitalization. Far more common is hypoactive delirium, in
which the patient may be equally disoriented but is withdrawn,
drowsy, or difficult to wake. Some patients also fluctuate
between the two states.
The first step in treatment is identifying the underlying cause
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