Immediately quitting excessive alcohol consumption may seem like a good idea to curb the ongoing side effects and demands of alcoholism. However, both the body and brain can experience shock through such an abrupt action, known as delirium tremens (DTs).
Also recognised as alcohol withdrawal syndrome, delirium tremens signs and symptoms occur when a dangerous and rapid withdrawal is encountered. While commonly short-lived, DTs can be fatal if ignored, especially for those who usually consume consistent and excessive quantities of alcohol.
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What are delirium tremens?
Delirium tremens (DTs) is a response to rapid, uncontrolled withdrawal from alcohol exposure.
It resembles a state of shock, which both the body and brain can encounter when usual quantities of alcohol are lowered or cut off abruptly.
It’s heavily associated with alcoholism due to excessive build-up, which can develop through the obstacle of tolerances. Once internal traces drop below personal tolerances, which will be likely through the cold turkey approach, symptoms of delirium tremens can surface as a reaction.
Causes and risk factors
Those at risk of encountering delirium tremens display heavy drinking habits, reflecting an alcohol abuse disorder diagnosis. It’s also a concern for those who have previously encountered alcohol withdrawal syndrome to a degree as a recurring symptom.
Such individuals are at risk due to the nature of delirium tremens caused by a cut off in alcohol exposure. As alcohol consumption slows down activity through the central nervous system, grave adaptations are found within brain structure and chemical production.
Through excessive alcohol exposure, the brain will become accustomed to such adaptations. Once consumption is cut off, activity and the brain’s functions will remain accustomed yet will overcompensate. This causes withdrawal, displayed through the uncontrollable response of delirium tremens (DTs).
If alcohol consumption is stopped quickly or is lowered significantly from mass consumption rates, the risks of DTs is high.
Signs and symptoms of delirium tremens
Spotting the signs and symptoms of delirium tremens should be acted on with urgency. Without taking action, complications can amount, requiring extensive acute treatment and long-term alcohol rehabilitation.
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome can result from a post-binge of going cold turkey or can be brought on through intentional alcohol detoxification. Signs and symptoms commonly begin after a few days, mildly post-consumption, yet can aggravate as withdrawal continues. Like any response, symptoms will vary between individuals yet can become hazardous if ignored or untreated.
Common signs and symptoms of delirium tremens include:
- Stomach pains
- Involuntary muscle movements
- Extreme mood swings
- Sensitivity to light
- Chest pains
Complications of untreated delirium tremens
As delirium tremens (DTs) can develop into additional health worries, there are complications if signs are ignored and symptoms are untreated. Complications are also linked to the ongoing presence of alcohol consumption, which, when heavy, can damage internal organs and cause life-limiting conditions.
Alcohol-related liver disease is a consequence of untreated delirium tremens and alcoholism, ultimately resulting in liver failure. Heart failure is also common through the pressures that excessive alcohol and the withdrawal process can influence. Damage to the brain is a concern of untreated delirium tremens and ongoing alcohol abuse due to the unpredictable and continuous changes in the brain and central nervous system.
Realistically, delirium tremens (DTs) and alcoholism alone are challenging to deal with. Once paired and prolonged, they can significantly reduce the quality of life. This is why placing yourself in a dedicated alcohol rehabilitation facility will give you the best chance of completing a successful recovery from addiction safely.
Treatment for delirium tremens
Immediate medical care should be sourced through symptoms of delirium tremens. Such a response is life-threatening without acting with urgency. Through medical care, stabilisation will be key while slowing down the withdrawal process. Symptoms of delirium tremens will be managed while considering nutritional treatment to tackle any deficiencies which can disrupt stabilisation.
Once symptoms of delirium tremens (DTs) are under control and health can be stabilised, long-term treatment will be recommended to work through heavy alcohol intake. Alcoholism will be treated through a tailored treatment programme, promoting rehabilitation efforts. Cognitive behavioural therapy, AA anonymous sessions, group therapy, motivational therapy and relapse prevention will be recommended to promote psychological detachment from alcohol. Aims to avoid future consumption will also be worked towards also to minimise the reoccurring display of delirium tremens (DTs).
Delirium tremens (DTs) is a significant cause for concern if experienced, also a sign that alcohol exposure is chronic. Avoid the risks by minimising, controlling or carefully withdrawing through alcohol rehab.
Frequently Asked Questions
-  only 5% of people encounter a degree of delirium tremens - https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-it-like-to-go-through-alcohol-withdrawals-80193
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