What is the outlook for people with delirium?

Patients can recover completely if the cause of delirium is identified quickly and addressed. Any delay makes it less likely they’ll recover quickly and/or fully. Lack of treatment can lead to stupor, coma or even death. Older persons with dementia and those with HIV are less likely to have a complete recovery.

Is delirium fatal?

Delirium can be life-threatening if left untreated. But with the right care and treatment, people can recover.

How long does the person need to be on medication?

If a person receives medication to treat symptoms of delirium, the symptoms may improve. However, even when symptoms improve, the person should not suddenly stop taking their medications. A healthcare provider can help gradually decrease the dose and eventually stop the medication.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/16/2020.


  • HealthinAging.org. Delirium. Accessed 9/18/2020.
  • Merck Manual. Delirium. Accessed 9/18/2020.
  • U.S. National Library of Medicine. Delirium. Accessed 9/18/2020.

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