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Symptom Management


Confusion is an aspect of delirium, which is common, especially in patients with advanced disease. Patients with a progressive medical disease often develop confusion or drowsiness before death.

Delirium can be caused by:

Complications of the disease (e.g., organ failure)
Nutritional deficiencies
Other disorders that affect the brain

Some signs of delirium include:

Memory impairment or confusion
Change in mood
Illusions or hallucinations
Disturbance in the sleep/wake cycle
Fluctuating level of consciousness
Disorientation to place, time, and/or person

Management of delirium can include:

Medications (e.g., haloperidol, methotrimeprazine, thioridazine, chlorpromazine)
General support for and communication with the patient and family
Encouraging the family's interaction with the patient
Any treatment that can help reverse the underlying cause


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