Delirium Tremens and Alcohol Withdrawal

August 14 19:55 2019 Print This Article

Delirium Tremens is caused by withdrawal from alchohol in cronic alcholism. Changes in the state of consciousness, agiation and tremor are some of the symptoms which progress to dangerous chnages in heart rate and blood pressure. This creates a state of temporary confusion and leads to dangerous changes in the way your brain regulates your circulation and breathing. The body’s vital signs such as your heart rate or blood pressure can change dramatically or unpredictably, creating a risk of heart attack, stroke or death. DTs, the most severe manifestation of withdrawal, occurs in 5% of patients with alcohol withdrawal.

Delirium tremens is characterized by the usual symptoms of alcohol withdrawal such as tremor, sweating, vomiting, anxiety and agitation, as well as a number of symptoms that are specific to delirium tremens. Specific symptoms which distinguish delirium tremens from more mild alcohol withdrawal are the presence of mental confusion, disorientation in time and place, and the presence of visual hallucinations.

Delirium Tremens is life threatening comlication of alcholism. 5-10% of alcholics experience it. The symptoms of delirium tremens usually last 1 to 5 days. However, they can last for as long as 10 days. Prevention of delirium is focused on treating or avoiding its underlying causes. The most preventable forms are those induced by drugs. A risk factor is something that increases your chances of getting a disease or condition.

Risk factors for DTs include: History of DTs, Other medical problems in addition to alcohol abuse and Brain damage. Medicines called benzodiazepines can lessen alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Commonly used medicines in this group include diazepam (Valium), chlordiazepoxide (Librium) and lorazepam (Ativan). To prevent having DTs, do not abuse alcohol. If you do drink large amounts on a regular basis, do not suddenly decrease the amount or stop drinking on your own. Rather, get advice from your doctor on the safest way to lower your intake.

Causes of Delirium Tremens and Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal rarely occurs in a person who only drinks once in a while. Someone who has gone through alcohol withdrawal before is more likely to have withdrawal symptoms each time he or she quits drinking alcohol.

Find common causes and risk factors of Delirium Tremens and Alcohol Withdrawal:

  • Alcoholism.
  • Higher-than-usual quantity and frequency of ethanol consumption (So much individual variability exists that the actual answer may not be clinically relevant.).
  • Alcohol withdrawal.
  • Ethanol withdrawal seizures.
  • Prior history of DT.

Signs and Symptoms of Delirium Tremens and Alcohol Withdrawal

Sign and symptoms may include the following:

  • Dizziness.
  • Seizures.
  • Fever.
  • Tremors or shakes.
  • Sweating.
  • Disturbed behavior.
  • Rapid heartbeat.
  • Anxiety or panic attacks.

Treatment for Delirium Tremens and Alcohol Withdrawal

Pharmacotherapy is symptomatic and supportive. For delirium tremens, treatment in an intensive care unit (ICU) is often required. In an ICU, your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing can be monitored closely in case emergency life-support (such as artificial breathing by a machine) is needed. Medicines called benzodiazepines can lessen alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Commonly used medicines in this group include diazepam (Valium), chlordiazepoxide (Librium) and lorazepam (Ativan). Most alcohol abusers who are having withdrawal symptoms have a shortage of several vitamins and minerals and can benefit from nutritional supplements. In particular, alcohol abuse can create a shortage of folate, thiamine, vitamin B12, magnesium, zinc and phosphate. It also can cause low blood sugar. Ideally, an addiction specialist assists in the care of a person who is experiencing alcohol withdrawal.

  • Intravenous (IV) fluids.
  • Immediate bedside glucose testing or D50 administration.
  • Cardiac monitor.
  • Blood pressure medicine.
  • Sedation with benzodiazepine.