Delirium has many symptoms that can change quickly. Delirium can come and go within 24 hours. And people with delirium often can be lucid (clear-headed) during this time.

The symptoms vary among people with the condition.

Four Key Signs

A person may have delirium if they have:

  1. Difficulty concentrating
  2. Changes in behavior, personality, mood, or attention
  3. Changes in awareness (for example, being either super alert or drowsy)
  4. Any change in function, such as sleeping more or eating less

Typical Symptoms of Delirium

  • Sudden onset over hours to days
  • Slurred speech and language difficulties, talking that doesn’t make sense
  • Changes in feeling (sensation) and perception
  • Easily distracted, decreased attention, concentration, and awareness of what is nearby
  • Usually more alert in the morning than at night; in and out of consciousness
  • Changes in movement (for example, people may become slow moving or very restless)
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Confusion and disorientation, not aware of correct time or place
  • Memory loss, including worse short-term memory
  • Disorganized thinking
  • Emotional or personality changes, with frequent changes in moods
  • Incontinence (unable to control urine or bowel movements)
  • Hallucinations (visual, but not auditory)
  • Signs of medical illness (such as fever, chills, pain, etc.) or medication side effects


Last Updated May 2023

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