General or Other | – Others | Delirium tremens (severe alcohol withdrawl) (Disease)
Delirium tremens (severe alcohol withdrawl): Description
A person that is going through alcohol withdrawal has suddenly stopped drinking alcohol after drinking regularly for a prolonged time. Alcohol withdrawal occurs within 12 to 72 hours after drinking has stopped, and symptoms can last for 2 to 10 days.
Delirium tremens is a complication of chronic alcohol abuse. It is characterized by excessive agitation, confusion, and hallucinations. There is a release in adrenalin and other catecholamines after a sudden deprivation of alcohol. Not all alcoholics experience DTs when they stop drinking alcohol, but recurrence of DTs is common. If left untreated DTs can result in death.
The main symptoms of Delirium Tremens are confusion, diarrhea, insomnia, nightmares, disorientation and agitation and other signs of severe autonomic instability (fever, tachycardia, hypertension). These symptoms may appear suddenly but can develop 2–3 days after cessation of drinking heavily with its highest peak/ intensity on the fourth or fifth day. Also, these symptoms are characteristically worse at night. Other common symptoms include intense perceptual disturbance such as visions of insects, snakes, or rats. These may be hallucinations, or illusions related to the environment,
Causes and Risk factors
Withdrawal from sedative-hypnotics other than alcohol, such as benzodiazepines, or barbiturates, can also result in seizures, delirium tremens, and death if not properly managed.
Withdrawal from other drugs which are not sedative-hypnotics such as caffeine, cocaine, etc. do not have major medical complications, and are not life-threatening. Withdrawal reactions as a result of physical dependence on alcohol is the most dangerous and can be fatal. It often creates a full blown effect which is physically evident through shivering, palpitations, sweating and in some cases, convulsions.
Delirium tremens (severe alcohol withdrawl): Treatment and Diagnosis
Treatment for alcohol withdrawal includes fluids, B vitamins, and medications to control anxiety and reduce alcohol craving. Medications may be required to lower blood pressure in those with alcohol withdrawal