Coping with Mental Confusion (Delirium) in Childhood Cancer

delirium-smSymptom Management, Palliative Care, or Supportive Care to relieve side-effects is an important part of cancer care and treatment and should always form part of the overall treatment plan.

Delirium is a cognitive impairment disorder (it affects how a person thinks, remembers, and reasons). The main signs of delirium to watch out for are sudden changes in consciousness or state of arousal, such as feeling drowsy or agitated.

A child with delirium may experience confusion, disorientation, an inability to focus, memory problems, or changes in perception; these can include hallucinations or experiencing events that aren’t really happening.

Delirium is the most common sign of medical complications of cancer or cancer treatment affecting the brain and mind. It is a common problem for individuals with advanced cancer or those at the end of life. Because of its troubling symptoms, delirium is often very stressful for the child with cancer and their family members.

Delirium complicates the ability of healthcare staff to assess and manage your child’s other symptoms. It can also interfere with your child’s ability to receive cancer treatments.

Types of delirium

There are three types of delirium:

  • Hypoactive – the person acts sleepy or withdrawn
  • Hyperactive – the person is agitated
  • Mixed – the person alternates between these two types

More than two thirds of patients with delirium have the hypoactive or mixed type. A person may experience hallucinations and delusions with any of the types.

Delirium often has more than one cause, especially for those who are frail or severely ill. Medications are one of the main causes, but many other conditions can lead to delirium.

Discovering the cause of your child’s delirium is important in order for the doctor to choose the best treatment.


Read more about the Effects, Signs and Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment and more regarding Delirium on our static page, Mental Confusion (Delirium) in Childhood Cancer



About LFCT

This is a blog about CHILDHOOD CANCER and CHILDHOOD CANCER AWARENESS Little Fighters Cancer Trust is a non-profit organisation that offers support and aid to Children with Cancer and their families. When a child is diagnosed with cancer it affects the whole family. One of the parents, usually the mother, must give up their job to care for the child and this creates financial problems for the family. In South Africa especially the majority of these families are not well-to-do; many of them are rural. A diagnosis of cancer can wipe out any family’s finances, let alone a poor family. The costs of special medications, special diets, hospital stays, transport to and from the hospital or clinic and accommodation and food costs for the mother who spends most of the time at her child’s bedside are astronomical. These are the people and problems that fall through the cracks, and these are the people that Little Fighters Cancer Trust has pledged to help in any way possible. LFCT takes a holistic approach to assisting the Children with Cancer and their Families, with the main aim to be the preservation of individual dignity and pride. Little Fighters Cancer Trust also focuses on promotion and advocacy of National Childhood Cancer Awareness in an effort to increase awareness of Early Warning Signs of Childhood Cancer. This would result in earlier diagnosis, giving the Child with Cancer more of a chance at Treatment and Survival. See "About" for more Background info

Posted on 24 June, 2016, in Blog and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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