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Acute confusional state, more commonly known as delirium, is a state of impaired consciousness, cognitive functioning, and perception. The condition's "acute" designation means it can appear within hours or days, and it can be resolved in hours, days, weeks, or months, depending on the cause and severity of the impairment. Although it is not permanent, delirium does require medical attention, and it may be life-threatening if the person experiencing the acute confusional state is left alone.

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1. Symptoms

The symptoms of delirium are broken down into four categories.

  • Category one: reduced awareness of the environment, such as an inability to keep up with a conversation, being easily distracted or lacking the ability to focus on things, withdrawal from the environment, and a lack of response to things going on in the environment.
  • Category two: thinking skills like poor memory, disorientation, rambling or nonsense speech, difficulty recalling words or speaking, trouble understanding speech, and difficulty reading or writing.
  • Category three: behavioral changes, including hallucinations, disturbance or reversal of sleep patterns, lethargy, restless, agitated, or combative behavior, and moaning, calling out, or making other unusual noises.
  • Category four: Emotional disturbances like personality changes, unpredictable mood changes, sudden paranoia, anxiety, fear, irritability, or depression.
paranoid and frightened man vchal / Getty Images
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This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.