Delirium after chemotherapy

Posted by msib @msib, May 5 9:49pm

My father was diagnosed with Diffuse Large Cell Lymphoma his liver and surrounding lymph nodes showed the cancer was aggressive but "very treatable" 3 weeks ago. The doctor advised an aggressive RChop (or Echop, I can't remember) he had few symptoms expect a little swelling through his multiple day initial treatment. But about two days after treatment he became mentally confused, near delirium. They checked his blood, hydrated him and gave him Ativan because he was hyper active and making poor decisions. He's since slowed but it's still not making much sense. I'm so afraid and he's refusing most care. Anyone experience this or have suggestions for asking his healthcare team who he's avoiding? Could he have dementia from chemo or something related?

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I am not on that therapy and I am not an expert, but I had a heavy mental chemo fog after my first couple of infusions. Over time it improved. I attribute that symptom to my heavy tumor burden, and I suspect the brain fog was due to the junk in my body from the tumors breaking down. Hydration can help flush that stuff out. If water isn’t palatable try using some hydration powders. It might take a few to find one that tastes right. And time helped me too. I don’t get those fogs now so much. I hope you can find something that helps. Thank you for being there for you dad.


After being given an IV antihistamine following a drug reaction, I started hallucinating and was put on a heart monitor. Even Benadryl causes my heart to race. I understand that sometimes antihistamines are given with chemo so the cause might not be the chemo drugs.


@msib Welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. I bet you and your dad are both going through quite a range of emotions! The tension and worry of the cancer, the treatments outlined for him, all the questions and concerns that come with a serious diagnosis and what that can mean to a person and their family.

You have received a couple of great responses from @normahorn and @laughingjane. Right now I am taking a break from the chemo treatment I have been on for almost 2 years without a break. When looking up the medical definition of delirium, it made me realize that is what I have gone through also in the last couple of years! Certainly your dad is getting inundated with new chemicals introduced into his body, and it is most likely reacting. My suggestion is to make sure he lets his medical team know about what he is experiencing. Maybe even go so far as keeping a journal of symptoms and note times of day, etc. It will help everyone track the issue, and give your dad a feeling of some control over all this. Does this sound doable to you and him?


Chemo hurt me too been in hospital over 2 weeks with low numbers


I’ve been thinking about you and your father a lot. I hope things are improving. I also want to emphasize what @gingerw said about letting your dad’s doctors know what is going on. I’ve had family members with sudden onset confusion that was an indicator of a bladder infection. It’s good to keep on top of things and report all changes and new and worsening symptoms. Thank you again for being there for your dad!

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