Delirium Treatments in Opelika, AL
Delirium - at its core - is an altered state of consciousness. Occurring quickly, delirium clouds the thought process, misleads the senses and may be caused by either drug use, certain medications, brain abnormalities, or a combination thereof. Typically occurring in the elderly, delirium in younger patients could signal a serious underlying condition.
What is Delirium?
Often confused with hallucinations, delirium is a far more encompassing condition. Hallucinations are the perceived sight of something that, in reality, isn't there - similar to a mirage. Delirium is a lot like dementia, a pervasive condition of wide-reaching disorientation, affecting behavior, cognition, emotions, and environmental/situational awareness; nearly every facet of human experience and interaction. However, the key difference between delirium and dementia is the speed and progression at which it progresses. Delirium presents quickly and intensely while dementia starts slow and builds gradually over time (the most common cause of delirium is Alzheimer's disease).
There are a myriad of symptoms associated with delirium, including:
- Trouble focusing
- Flat affect in situations requiring a response
- Preoccupation with irrelevancies
- Memory loss
- Physical speech difficulties
- Nonsensical speech patterns
- Trouble reading/writing
- Hallucinations (epically Lilliputian hallucinations where objects/people appear smaller than that are)
- Emotional and social withdrawal (not a control tactic as seen in personality disorders)
- Insomnia and other sleep issues
- Movement issues
- Reversal of natural Circadian rhythm (the “body clock”)
- Euphoria (short of mania)
- Mood and personality changes
This vast array of symptoms can be grouped into the three subsets of delirium: hyperactive, hypoactive and mixed. Hyperactive causes an individual to be restless, with incessant pacing, emotional changes, and irritation. Hypoactive, on the other hand, is when withdrawal and limited motor activity are the predominant characteristics of delirium. In mixed delirium, symptoms of both hyperactive and hypoactive may be present at the same time or a rapid oscillation between the two can be observed.
Causes of Delirium
It’s been said that the brain controls the body, but what happens when the brain is out of control? Delirium may be the result. In delirium, a state known as delirium tremens may appear. Delirium tremens is the ungoverned, unrestricted reaction to ALL external stimuli regardless of origin, context or proximity. A phone ringing two-doors down can send those with delirium into a fit of hyperactivity where a police car siren right behind them may induce the “shut-down” effect of hypoactive delirium. Low levels of dopamine and a cholinergic deficiency may be to blame for the onset of sudden delirium.
Some of the most common risk factors of delirium include:
- Men of older age
- Presence of dementia
- Drugs and alcohol abuse
Despite these risk factors, several independent causes are known to exist. Some of these causes include:
- Drug use
- Severe illness
- Having a bladder catheter
- Cardiac surgery (particularly a bypass surgery that lasts longer than average)
- Extended stay in an intensive care unit (ICU)
- Urinary tract infections (UTI)
Delirium may sound like an interesting out of body experience, but it's, in fact, a medical emergency requiring immediate medical attention, especially in younger sufferers. If you - or someone you know - experiences the symptoms of delirium, seek help today.
Request more information about delirium treatments today. Call (334) 781-7319 or contact Dr. Ryan McWhorter online.
Alabama Functional Medicine
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