It is possible that you wake up from surgery and you start to feel confused. This is called delirium where you experience an abrupt state of confusion after surgery and then eventually will return to their normal level of thinking. If you know a patient who is experiencing delirium, it is important to make sure that you are there for them and help them figure things out.


Early signs of delirium may be experiencing vivid dreams, trouble sleeping, and a heightened state of fear or anxiety that you have never had before, and is constantly calling a certain presence to keep coming into the room. Identifying these symptoms earlier will prevent you from experiencing full-blown delirium days later. You may be experiencing hallucinations or delusions like thinking your nurse is trying to kill you or seeing a bug infestation. You may also have trouble swallowing, trouble speaking, or trembling for no reason. The reason you may experience delirium after surgery is because of the anesthesia medications and may receive other pain medications if they have a longer hospital stay.


Hyperactive delirium is when you are unable to sleep for days which puts you on high alert. They may seem restless like they have had too much caffeine in their system. You would think that a patient would want as much rest as possible when they are hospitalized, but hyperactive delirium can make this very hard to do. Hypoactive delirium is the exact opposite where you feel too tired to tolerate activity, are depressed, sleepy, and not able to engage in conversation. 


If you or someone you know has delirium, it is important to get quality sleep as well as support to take care of any needs that cannot be done when ill. The hospital staff needs to provide the patient with essentials they need like sleep, eating and drinking regularly, going to the bathroom, and reorienting the patient when confused. Let the patient know they are in the hospital, what they are in for, as well as the day and time. Do not wake up the patient if they are asleep unless it is necessary. Some hospitals will supply earplugs and eye masks to help the patient sleep better with no excess noise or light. Being sympathetic to what the patient is going through in delirium and supplying them with their needs will help them get better.

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