Skip to content

Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Delirium (PDQ®): Supportive care - Patient Information [NCI] - General Information About Delirium

Delirium is a confused mental state that causes changes in awareness and behavior.

Delirium is a confused mental state that can occur in patients who have cancer, especially advanced cancer. Patients with delirium have problems with the following:

Recommended Related to Cancer

Adverse Effects

Cannabisand Cannabinoids Because cannabinoid receptors, unlike opioid receptors, are not located in the brainstem areas controlling respiration, lethal overdoses from Cannabis and cannabinoids do not occur.[1,2,3,4] However, cannabinoid receptors are present in other tissues throughout the body, not just in the central nervous system, and adverse effects include tachycardia, hypotension, conjunctival injection, bronchodilation, muscle relaxation, and decreased gastrointestinal motility. Although...

Read the Adverse Effects article > >

  • Attention.
  • Thinking.
  • Awareness.
  • Behavior.
  • Emotions.
  • Judgement.
  • Memory.
  • Muscle control.
  • Sleeping and waking.

There are three types of delirium:

  • Hypoactive: The patient is not active and seems sleepy, tired, or depressed.
  • Hyperactive: The patient is restless or agitated.
  • Mixed: The patient changes back and forth between being hypoactive and hyperactive.

Delirium may come and go during the day.

The symptoms of delirium usually occur suddenly. They often occur within hours or days and may come and go. Delirium is often temporary and can be treated. However, in the last 24 to 48 hours of life, delirium may be permanent because of problems like organ failure. Most advanced cancer patients have delirium that occurs in the last hours to days before death.

This summary is about delirium in adults.

    WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

    Last Updated: September 04, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    1
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    Colorectal cancer cells
    A common one in both men and women.
    Lung cancer xray
    See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
     
    sauteed cherry tomatoes
    Fight cancer one plate at a time.
    Ovarian cancer illustration
    Do you know the symptoms?
     
    Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
    Blog
    what is your cancer risk
    HEALTH CHECK
     
    colorectal cancer treatment advances
    Video
    breast cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
     
    prostate cancer overview
    SLIDESHOW
    lung cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
     
    ovarian cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
    Actor Michael Douglas
    Article