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How is sundown syndrome diagnosed?

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Quick Answer

Sundown syndrome diagnosis is purely clinical and involves checking the patterns of various cognitive, behavioral and affective abnormalities in the patient and determining whether these symptoms emerge or become worse in the afternoon, in the evening or at night, explains PubMed Central. Knowing the symptoms of sundown syndrome and determining their cause is important when diagnosing this condition, reports Assisted Living Today.

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Full Answer

Sundown syndrome is common in patients who suffer from dementia, Alzheimer's disease and delirium, explains Assisted Living Today. However, not all patients with these conditions experience sundowning, and different patients react in different ways to the typical triggers of sundowning, making diagnosis difficult.

Some of the symptoms of sundown syndrome include agitation, restlessness, confusion, irritability and disorientation, reports WebMD. Other, more complex symptoms are paranoia, lying, hiding things, cussing and hallucinations, explains Assisted Living Today. Doctors and caregivers need to know the patient's routine to understand how these symptoms develop. If these symptoms become worse in the late afternoon or at the end of the day, it is possible the person has sundown syndrome.

Sundown syndrome has no known cause, reports PubMed Central. However, experts suggest that factors such as disruption in the patient's circadian rhythm, sensory deprivation and sleep disorders may contribute to sundowning. Hunger, fatigue, boredom, depression and pain may also trigger sundown syndrome, according to WebMD.

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