Children Suffer From Hallucinations After Intensive Care

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About 1/3 of children undergoing treatment at pediatric intensive care units suffer from delusional memories, hallucinations, and post traumatic stress disorder.

The study examined 102 children aged from 7 to 17 treated in Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London. They were given tests to uncover post traumatic stress signs 3 months after hospital stay. Children were also asked about their memories from the days they spent at intensive care unit.

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Two out of three children remembered real thing happening during ICU stay. However, half of them were able to remember only short episodes, such as parents visiting them. One out of free children reported to have delusional memories, hallucinations. These children also reported very high levels of post traumatic stress disorder signs.

Children reported hallucinations, such as rats and scorpions on the walls, ceilings, and their arms and legs, bleeding cats, and even parents replaced impostors with strange voices. Children who had been in accidents were describing that the hallucinations are even more frightening than the accidents. It takes about three days for the hallucinations to become less realistic.

The study was designed to understand the experiences of children undergoing a treatment in pediatric intensive care unit. Children at ICUs are the ones recovering from serious surgeries, illnesses, and injuries. Similar results have been also reported in adults after intensive care unit stays.

Research suggests that sedatives and painkillers widely used in intensive care units are causing delusional memories and hallucinations. The stronger sedatives and painkillers are, than more realistic hallucinations will be. Research also urges the need of alternative treatments and medicines for children at pediatric ICUs, because current treatments lead to post traumatic stress disorder after ICU stay.

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