Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

The first goal of treatment for delirium is to address any underlying causes or triggers — for example, by stopping use of a particular medication or treating an infection. Treatment then focuses on creating the best environment for healing the body and calming the brain.

Supportive care

Supportive care aims to prevent complications by:

  • Protecting the airway
  • Providing fluids and nutrition
  • Assisting with movement
  • Treating pain
  • Addressing incontinence
  • Avoiding use of physical restraints and bladder tubes
  • Avoiding changes in surroundings and caregivers when possible
  • Encouraging the involvement of family members or familiar people


Talk with the doctor about avoiding or minimizing the use of drugs that may trigger delirium. Certain medications may be needed to control pain that's causing delirium.

Other types of drugs may help calm a person who misinterprets the environment in a way that leads to severe paranoia, fear or hallucinations, and when severe agitation or confusion occurs. These drugs may be needed when certain behaviors:

  • Prevent the performance of a medical exam or treatment
  • Endanger the person or threaten the safety of others
  • Don't lessen with nondrug treatments

These medications are usually reduced in dose or discontinued when the delirium resolves.

Sept. 05, 2015