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Difference between Delirium and Dementia

In biology, everything is related to the human body. Biology focuses not only on the systems of the human body but also on keeping these systems active and alive. The human body is cumulative of many other inbuilt systems like the immune system, the respiratory system, intestines, etc. The alignment of these systems altogether forms the human body. We are often asked to keep ourselves fit by eating the right amount of food and exercising on a daily basis. Such activities help our mental and physical bodies to be healthy.

So, today we will discuss about mental health. We have heard many ailments related to the mind like clinical depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, dissociative identity disorder, paranoia, etc. Apart from these ailments, let us discuss two of the most common disorders, i.e., delirium and dementia.

Difference between Delirium and Dementia


Delirium is defined as a mental ailment in which a person is confused regarding his/ her own thinking. The person also has reduced awareness of the environment and surrounding he/ she lives in. Delirium is generally caused by several factors like the intoxication of alcohol, infection, some chronic illness, change in metabolism, etc. If the disorder is not treated on time, then it can cause loss of cognitive abilities for a lifetime. Patients suffering from dementia might also suffer from blood clots and pneumonia, which can further weaken them. It is best to treat delirium as soon as possible through medications. Doctors majorly prescribe antibiotics for infections, electrolytes/ fluids for dehydration, and benzodiazepines for alcohol intoxication.


Dementia cannot be called as a proper ailment as it involves forgetting things. A person becomes forgetful in this ailment. Well, it is important to note that dementia cannot be cured. It can long for few years or maybe for a lifetime. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer's syndrome. Dementia is often seen in the later stages of life, i.e., people aged from 50-70 years. People can take certain medications to minimize the effect of dementia but cannot cure it. People can even go to rehabilitation centres for curing the ailment. But the cure is not available for dementia. Now, let us look at the basic difference between delirium and dementia.

1. Delirium is defined as an ailment in which the person experiences reduced awareness and confused thinking in response to the environment he/ she lives in. On the other hand, dementia is defined as the forgetful nature of a human being. When a person forgets certain things, it is termed as dementia.
2. Delirium can happen suddenly. Dementia can be unrecognized by people.
3. Delirium does not transform into a chronic ailment. On the other hand, dementia can happen at any age and can become chronic in the later stages of life.
4. The person suddenly becomes impaired in his/ her surroundings. The signs of dementia are not instantly visible. The signs of dementia take time to come into sight.
5. The memory is instantly impaired in delirium. The memory takes time to impair and turn into a chronic ailment.
6. The thinking of a person becomes disorganized. The person finds it difficult to carry out his/ her thoughts and emotions appropriately.
7. People can experience hallucinations, delusions, etc. Delusions, hallucinations, etc., are generally absent in a person.
8. A person suffering from delirium becomes distracted from his/ her task. On the other hand, a person who has dementia struggles with self-assessment.
9. Delirium can be present from days to weeks, but it can be cured through medications. Dementia can be present from months to years and can even last for a lifetime. This ailment cannot be cured.
10. A common symptom of delirium is fever. However, people suffering from dementia do not have such symptoms. They behave normally in the initial phases.

So, these are the differences between delirium and dementia. Both delirium and dementia are mental ailments out of which only delirium can be cured. Treatment of both ailments is necessary, as, after a certain point of time, both can be incurable. Now, let us look at certain stages of dementia that can turn into a chronic ailment.

Stages of Dementia

Dementia initially attacks the memory, followed by impairing the speech, focus, concentration, judgement, and reasoning of a person. There are seven stages of dementia. They are:

  1. Stage 1: In the first stage, the person behaves normally and is physically fit. Asymptomatic dementia is the first stage of dementia. There are no signs of memory loss or disorganized thinking.
  2. Stage 2: In this stage, mild symptoms are seen in a person. The cognitive abilities reduce a little bit. People forget common things in this stage. Even the doctors in this stage cannot diagnose dementia in a person.
  3. Stage 3: More cognitive decline takes place in this stage. People become more forgetful about certain things. A person is not able to speak properly and is unable to carry out everyday tasks. Stage 3 is also called as Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI).
  4. Stage 4: In stage four, cognitive decline is moderately seen in a person. This stage can last for about 2-3 years. People in this stage are forgetful and are unable to manage their finances.
  5. Stage 5: In this stage, the signs and symptoms are easily identified. Short-term memory loss happens in this stage.
  6. Stage 6: In this stage, a person forgets the name of their loved ones. The speech of the person is mainly impaired.
  7. Stage 7: In the final stage, a serious decline of the cognitive happens. Dementia turns into a chronic ailment that cannot be cured.

So, these are the stages of dementia. These stages depict the initial stages of dementia to its final stages. People suffering from dementia have to bear it lifelong as there is no cure for this ailment.

Well, there are no stages as such for delirium as it is a known disease and can be cured in initial phases. Since this disease can be cured initially, a person can feel fit and healthy. People suffering from delirium have to take care of their health by exercising and eating the right food. Both delirium and dementia are mental ailments. One needs to take care of themselves in order to stay healthy. There is a significant difference between the two terms, i.e., dementia is non-curable, while delirium is curable. Thus, people suffering from either delirium or dementia must be under medical guidance.

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