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Delirium tremens: what does it mean, symptoms and treatment

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He delirium tremens It is a state of acute mental confusion and is considered a serious complication of alcohol withdrawal, which can cause symptoms such as hallucinations, temblors and sudden mood swings.

This delirium can be present in a period of 2 to 5 days after the last ingestion of alcohol in people dependent on these drinks, and can cause symptoms such as hallucinations, anxiety and increased heart rate, for example, being more common in those with a chronic alcohol consumption and family history.

the treatment of delirium tremens it will depend on the intensity of the symptoms and it must be carried out with drugs such as clomethiazol and tetrabamate in a hospital to avoid complications such as Wernicke’s encephalopathy or Korsakoff’s syndrome, in addition to changes in daily habits that improve the quality of life of the person.



The main symptoms that could indicate delirium tremens sound:

  • hallucinations;
  • Increased heart rate;
  • Rapid breathing;
  • Temblores;
  • Anxiety;
  • Sueño disorders;
  • sudden mood swings;
  • Increased sweating;
  • Convulsions.

These symptoms appear after 2 to 5 days when the person breaks down or interrupts his consumption of alcohol and alcohol lasts from 48 hours to 5 days. That’s why it’s important to go to the doctor in case you have these symptoms to receive the appropriate treatment.

The diagnosis of delirium tremens It can be carried out by a general practitioner, psychiatrist or neurologist, who will evaluate the signs and symptoms presented by the person, in addition to investigating the personal history of alcohol consumption, such as frequency and frequency. The doctor will be able to carry out some tests, such as the CIWA-Ar scale, in order to determine the intensity of abstinence and guide the appropriate treatment.

Likewise, imaging and laboratory studies can be requested to determine the health status of the person and assess possible damage to organs, such as kidneys and liver, due to alcohol consumption.



The main cause of delirium tremens it is the interruption of alcohol intake in people with chronic consumption. Some of the main risk factors for its development are:

  • Family history;
  • Cant of alcohol at the time of hospitalization;
  • Poorly controlled chronic illnesses such as diabetes;
  • Liver diseases;
  • Changes in liver enzymes;
  • Intensity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

The interruption of alcohol consumption can be produced by a hospitalization due to some other illness, diseases caused by alcohol that motivate the person to try to quit and even by family, work or social conflicts, for example.

For this reason, it is important that people who want to give up alcohol consumption are suddenly interrupted by an accident, for example, receive medical advice to avoid complications related to alcohol withdrawal.

the treatment of delirium tremens It must be carried out at the hospital for treating the severity of symptoms, so that the doctor may prescribe medications, such as clomethiazole, tetrabamate and benzodiazepines, with the aim of relieving alcohol withdrawal and avoiding complications, such as the syndrome of Korsakoff and Wernicke’s encephalopathy.

It is important that people with abstinence from alcohol receive assistance and care such as supply of vitamins, especially B1, magnesium and good hydration, in addition to a calm environment and constant monitoring of vital signs.

In some cases, it delirium tremens It can be resistant to treatment and become complicated, requiring intubation and high-dose medications, such as benzodiazepines, phenobarbital and beta-blockers.

See more about the treatment of alcoholism.

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Consult a Doctor | Translated by User2937

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Disclaimer – (English version>) This content has been prepared based on information from research, additional publications, or the translation/verification work of a volunteer editor of this web council. This is a non-profit service. It is strongly recommended that all details and information published be carefully verified. We never allow medication recommendations, medication package inserts or any medication guidance. We never allow partisan politics as information.

Isenção de responsabilidade – (versão em português): Este conteúdo foi preparado com base em informações de pesquisas, publicações adicionais ou no trabalho de tradução/verificação de um editor voluntário deste conselho web. Este é um serviço sem fins lucrativos. É altamente recomendável que todos os detalhes e informações publicadas sejam verificadas cuidadosamente. Nunca permitimos recomendações de medicamentos, bulas ou qualquer orientação sobre medicamentos. Nunca permitimos a política partidária como base para checagem. Para mais informações, leia nossos termos.

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