Delirium is a common side effect of many health conditions and complications. While we may related delirium to the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s or other psychotic disorders, the fact is, many patients suffer from short term and long term delirium in response to prescription medications used to treat another health condition.
Prescription medications that prompt delirium come in a variety of chemical compositions. The symptoms of delirium mimic that of other complications; confusion, psychosis, extreme agitation, often resulting in a misdiagnosis into some other health condition such as depression, anxiety or dementia. As a result, when you, or someone you love, is experiencing delirium, it is important to push for appropriate diagnostic testing.
Delirium, in the most simplest of terms is described as a state of confusion in which the delirium sufferer moves about in a varying state of consciousness over several days. Changes may involve inability to concentrate, hysteria to a total lack of consciousness, i.e. sleep. Often, the delirium sufferer will find they are unable to remember specific tasks or instructions and are unable to remember facts or events in the short term.
When suffering from delirium in response to prescription medications, the healthcare professional will want to conduct a variety of diagnostic tests to rule out complications associated with other health conditions such as dementia or other psychotic disorders. When these diagnostic tests do not proof up another health complication, most physicians will conclude the complication is related to the secondary effects of the prescription medications used by the patient.
Treating delirium in the patient who is adversely responding to medication usage may involve simply removing the medication from the patient’s regimen. However, for some patients, the prescription medication given may be necessary to sustaining life. As a result, the physician will need to find a way to resolve delirium without removing the medication which prompted the complication.
Treatment, when unable to remove or discontinue the medication that prompted delirium, often involves the administration of antipsychotic medications such as Haldol, Risperdal or Zyprexa. The administration may be once or twice, daily, with oral administration or, in severe cases of delirium, may involve the use of IV administration.
When delirium is related to a side effect of short term medication which can not be suspended, it may be necessary to hospitalize the patient who is delirious until such time as the prescription medications can be discontinued or the underlying health condition, which prompted delirium, is resolved.