Delirium Treatments

NewsGuard 100/100 Score

Delirium is a state of mental confusion that has a variety of causes including illness, surgery or the use of some medications.

Also called “acute confusional state,” delirium usually starts suddenly and can be frightening for the person experiencing it, as well as for those around them. However, the condition usually resolves once the underlying cause is diagnosed and treated.

Fever and infection

Delirium can be caused as a result of fever due to infection. In these cases, antibiotics and a medication for reducing fever are administered. As the fever subsides, the features of delirium also subside.

Inflammation of the brain

Inflammatory conditions of the brain such as encephalitis or meningitis can also cause delirium and can be treated with antibiotics.

Medication and drugs of abuse

Delirium can be caused by the use of certain medications such as steroids or by sudden withdrawal from alcohol or drugs. In these cases, appropriate measures are taken to detoxify the patient and correct the withdrawal symptoms.


Dehydration and associated hypoglycemia and electrolyte imbalance can cause delirium. In these cases, treatment may involve correction of arterial blood gases and levels of blood sugar and electrolytes to restore the body’s fluid balance and ease symptoms.


Major surgery can also cause dehydration and delirium due to the amount of blood and body fluid lost, pre-operative fasting and anxiety.

Other causes

Some examples of other causes of delirium include liver and kidney disorders, epilepsy, neurological disorders and head injury. Poisoning with certain substances such as carbon mono-oxide can also cause delirium. Severe pain, especially in terminal illnesses, is another cause and can be eased with the use of strong pain relievers.

Supportive treatment

Treatment also needs to maintain optimal conditions for the brain such as adequate oxygenation along with the provision of sufficient hydration and nutrients using intravenous fluids. Healthcare workers also need to be alert to symptoms such as stress, anxiety and depression, which are commonly associated with delirium and may require treatment.

Antipsychotics such as haloperidol or risperidone are the most commonly used drugs for treating delirium. Sedatives such as benzodiazepines (eg, diazepam) can cause or worsen the condition and are not usually used, although they can help when the delirium is caused by alcohol withdrawal.

Further Reading

Last Updated: Aug 21, 2023

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Mandal, Ananya. (2023, August 21). Delirium Treatments. News-Medical. Retrieved on May 28, 2024 from

  • MLA

    Mandal, Ananya. "Delirium Treatments". News-Medical. 28 May 2024. <>.

  • Chicago

    Mandal, Ananya. "Delirium Treatments". News-Medical. (accessed May 28, 2024).

  • Harvard

    Mandal, Ananya. 2023. Delirium Treatments. News-Medical, viewed 28 May 2024,


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.

You might also like...
Delirium linked to tripled dementia risk in older adults, Australian study finds