Introduction and Definition

Delirium, acute confusional state, acute cognitive impairment, acute encephalopathy, and other synonyms refer to a transient disorder where attention and cognition are impaired. Delirium represents a form of brain failure, but the patient is more alert than in coma. Alerting functions are working, perhaps overworking. The patient may have difficulty in focusing, shifting, or sustaining attention. The formal definition also includes disturbed wake-sleep cycles and a fluctuating waxing and waning course of confusion.

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