Understanding Alcohol Withdrawal Delirium
What is Alcohol Withdrawal Delirium?
Alcohol Withdrawal Delirium (AWD), otherwise known as Delirium Tremens (DTs), is a severe form of alcohol withdrawal. The process involves sudden, extreme physical or nervous system changes. Alcoholism is a condition that will interfere with particular day-to-day activities and can lead to extremely severe physical and mental medical issues that can often be long-lasting.
Alcohol withdrawal delirium will usually begin to show symptoms roughly 2 – 3 days after an individual who is dependent on alcohol decides to put an end to a life that is centered around alcohol abuse. It has been estimated that approximately 50% of people who suffer from alcohol addiction will experience various withdrawal symptoms if they decide to stop drinking without any medical help abruptly. Of that 50% of people, 3 out of 5 percent will further experience AWD (Alcohol Withdrawal Delirium) symptoms such as severe confusion, grand mal seizures, strokes, and the significant risk of death.
Understanding the Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal Delirium?
Delirium Tremens occurs due to the nervous system’s inability to sufficiently adjusting its chemical balance after the cessation of alcohol. This sudden change of chemicals circulating the brain can lead to a dangerous shift in temperature control, breathing and blood circulation. There is an extremely high risk of the individual’s blood pressure and heart rate elevating dramatically, all of which can lead to a severe reduction in blood flow to the brain, which can result in a significant risk of a:
- Heart attack
- High blood pressure
- Rapid heartbeat
Further symptoms that aren’t as deadly as the ones stated above but can still lead to severe medical complications are as followed:
- Severe confusion
- Angry behavior
- Sleep disturbances
- Pale skin
- Excessive sweating
- Sleep disturbances
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Sensitivity to light, touch, and sound
- Loss of consciousness
A variety of studies have proven that between 1% – 4% of hospitalized patients with Alcohol Withdrawal Delirium will, unfortunately, die due to the associated symptoms. Death from Alcohol Withdrawal Delirium can be precipitated by life-threatening complications such as:
- Severe electrolyte disturbance
- Trauma from prolonged seizures
- Irregular heartbeat
- Respiratory arrest
It is crucial for any individual who is severely addicted to alcohol never to manage their reduced alcohol intake alone. A medical professional will need to analyze the body to understand how dependant it has become on the substance.
How is Delirium Tremens diagnosed?
No individual should ever attempt to completely cut out alcohol without seeking medical advice due to the severe complications that could arise within the body. If you are ready to reduce and manage the amount of alcohol you are drinking, visit a treatment facility such as Shoreline Sober Living. We provide structure in a safe and sober environment to allow individuals to recover from alcohol abuse and begin to gain control of their lives, allowing them to begin the road to sobriety.
When you believe you are ready to fight this battle head-on, you will need to contact a medical professional or treatment facility. To ensure you are placed on the proper treatment for your specific needs, your medical history will be reviewed as well as a variety of examinations of your physical and mental state.
If you have begun reducing your alcohol intake alone, your medical professional will conduct a physical examination to see how your body is currently reacting to the sudden change. They will be looking for symptoms such as:
- Irregular heart rate
- Hand tremors
Depending on the results from the physical examination, your medical professional may also perform a toxicology screen. This test is to observe how much alcohol is still in your body along with any other substance that the individual may have taken.
Several other tests may take place to evaluate your body’s physical and mental dependence on alcohol or how severe the withdrawal symptoms may become. This can include:
ECG: Medically known as an electrocardiograph, this test will check for any abnormalities within the electrical activity in your heart.
Blood magnesium level: This test will observe and evaluate the blood magnesium level of the individual. Low magnesium levels are an indication that severe alcohol withdrawal is currently in process within the body. Your physical state will be closely monitored to ensure you are not in any danger.
EEG: An electroencephalogram will detect electrical abnormalities within the individual’s brain. This test will usually only be conducted on individuals who are prone to experiencing seizures.
The more information your medical professional knows and understands about how your body works and the severity of your alcohol addiction, the lower the risk of having a medical emergency. Your withdrawal symptoms can be controlled and eased by therapy and medication after assessment. During your withdrawal process, your physical and mental state will constantly be monitored to ensure you are not in danger of suffering from any life-threatening symptoms. If your doctor is ever worried that your body may be struggling to cope with the withdrawal, adjustments will be immediately made.
Take back control of your life
Understanding alcohol withdrawal delirium symptoms associated with long-term alcohol abuse will help you on your road to recovery. The best way to overcome the withdrawal process is to understand what your body and mind may go through. Learning to live without alcohol will never be easy, especially within the first couple of weeks; however, the outcome will always be worth it.
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