Delirium (1393)

Key points below

What is delirium?

Sometimes patients will have a temporary change in the way their brain works. This may change the way they think or act.  This is called delirium.  This is common in patients who are in the hospital, even babies and kids.

What causes delirium?

Some causes are:
The reason they are in the hospital. Like a disease or injury. 
Medicines, such as those needed to manage pain.
A change in their normal day and sleep schedule.
Chemical changes in the brain.
Less oxygen to the brain.

What are the symptoms?

Not knowing where they are or who you are.
Saying mixed up things.
Being very upset and not responding to your usual soothing or calming.
Getting too much or too little sleep.
Mixing up days and nights.
Behavior or emotions that are not your child’s normal.  Your child may act out, be very worried, distrustful, or withdrawn.
Seeing or hearing things that aren’t real but seem very real to them.
Startling or restless movements.  They may try to pull out important lines or tubes.

How is delirium treated?

Your child’s team will watch for delirium in your child closely. 
The team may change medicines, control oxygen levels, or treat infections. 
Your child’s doctors may suggest one or more medicines to help with symptoms of delirium. 
Your child’s nurse will help make the room calm and help your child be on a good sleep routine.  This will help their delirium. 
Delirium usually gets better as the causes are found and addressed. 

How you can help to keep your child safe:

Be calm and reassuring at the bedside
Remind your child gently where they are.  
Provide familiar things such as a favorite blanket, stuffed animal or comforting music.
Distract child with happier thoughts, images, or activities
If they wear glasses or hearing aids be sure they have them on.
Help your child stay on their normal sleep schedule. 
Keep lights on during the day or off at night. 
Encourage your young child or baby to nap as usual.
Don’t argue with a confused child. 
Help keep your child safe if they are acting out or very upset.
Take care of yourself so you can be there for your child.


Let your child’s doctor or nurse know if you see any symptoms or have other questions or concerns.