Annals of African Medicine
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Year : 2009  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 139-146

Delirium: Issues in diagnosis and management

1 Neurology Unit, Department of Medicine, Federal Medical Centre, Yola, Nigeria
2 Federal Neuropsychiatry Hospital, Maiduguri, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
F K Salawu
Department of Medicine, Federal Medical Centre, Yola, Adamawa State
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1596-3519.57235

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Delirium is a disturbance of consciousness, cognition and perception that occurs frequently in medically ill patients. Although it is associated with increased morbidity and mortality, it is often not recognized and treated by physicians. Literature searches were conducted using MEDLINE with the following keywords/ phrases: delirium, acute confusion and management. Additional articles identified by hand-searching in major journals of medicine and psychiatry, and a review of references cited within these sources supplemented the search. In this article, the available published literature regarding the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of delirium is systematically reviewed. Prevention and treatment strategies do not need to be complex or expensive but require well-coordinated interventions from multiple disciplines, including nursing, psychiatry, neurology and primary care, as well as the cooperation and significant effort of family and friends. Atypical antipsychotic agents offer some advantages over haloperidol and in a limited number of studies appear safe and effective for delirium.

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