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Medicina (Buenos Aires)

versión On-line ISSN 1669-9106


KLEIN, Manuel; PAYASLIAN, Silvio; GOMEZ, Javier  y  PRIGIONI, Alejandra. Delirium due to acute nicotine withdrawal. Medicina (B. Aires) [online]. 2002, vol.62, n.4, pp. 335-336. ISSN 1669-9106.

Delirium or acute confusional state among hospitalized patients is a frequent and serious problem. It is characterized by acute onset symptoms, fluctuating course, impaired attention, unorganized thinking, and altered level of conciousness. Delirium, as a manifestation of acute nicotine withdrawal syndrome has been reported in the reviewed literature only in eight cases. We report the case of a heavy smoker admitted because of a reagudization of his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. At the third day of nicotine abstinence, he developed delirium with a rapid improvement of his symptoms after treatment with a transdermal nicotine patch. This description suggests that in hospitalized heavy smokers who develop delirium with agitation, a simple trial with a nicotine patch can offer a dramatic therapeutic response in a few hours, constituing additionally a confirmatory test. The recognition of delirium as a manifestation of nicotine withdrawal could allow to determine the origin of symptoms and to apply the appropriate therapy, in certain complex cases that now remain undiagnosed.

Palabras clave : Delirium; Acute confusional state; Nicotine; Substance withdrawal syndrome.

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