About this disease

What it is about

Common triggers of delirium are acute illnesses such as bladder or pneumonia or surgery. Sometimes it is also pain or urinary retention. But risk factors such as old age, certain medications and brain diseases such as dementia, Parkinson's disease or a previous stroke also promote the occurrence of delirium.


What exactly happens in the brain is still not clear. It seems that due to the above-mentioned triggers and risk factors, brain metabolism is disturbed and various substances (such as dopamine, serotonin) get mixed up. The average duration of delirium is two weeks. Sometimes, however, it goes on for several months until it has completely subsided, and in up to one third of those affected, a restriction of brain performance remains.

Symptoms and consequences

People with delirium are sometimes very agitated and often have hallucinations. They do not always know where they are and what has happened. They are confused and this scares them. Sometimes, however, severe lethargy prevails and they sleep a lot. The consequences are a complicated healing process, for example after an operation, and a significantly increased need for care. This has a particularly unfavorable effect on maintaining independence.

What we do for you

Examination and diagnosis

The nursing staff in the hospital carries out regular screenings. If delirium is present, interprofessional clarifications are taken. This includes, for example, checking medications, monitoring certain laboratory values, and searching for other triggers and risk factors. Radiological imaging of the brain may also be necessary. The involvement of relatives in the assessment, but also in the treatment, is extremely important.


Treatment of delirium consists primarily of therapy of the trigger (e.g., infection) and avoidance of additional agitation exacerbators such as infusions. The term "milieu-therapeutic measures" covers a variety of nursing interventions such as reorientation, ensuring a calm atmosphere or maintaining the day-night rhythm. There is no causative drug treatment for the acute state of confusion. Therefore, medications are used only temporarily to calm and reduce suffering when other measures are not sufficient.

Responsible departments

Acute Geriatrics
Trauma Surgery


Make an appointment!