What are the DTs?

Delirium Tremens are one of the most Serious Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Delirium Tremens, otherwise known as the DTs, are severe episodes of delirium that are caused from the withdrawal of alcohol. Delirium is a state of mental confusion and disorientation. Hallucinations or delusions are also associated to delirium. Common forms of delirium tremens might include feeling as though insects are crawling all over one’s body, seeing things that are not there and having no awareness as to where one is. Tremens refer to the “shakes”, which are rapid and uncontrollable movements of the body. Delirium Tremens are also accompanied by high fever, agitation, paranoia and an increased pulse rate.

The DTs are considered to be the most dangerous of all alcohol withdrawal symptoms as they can lead to death. Left untreated, 35% of those who experience the DTs will die. Fortunately, with proper medical treatment, the death rate associated to the DTs drops to anywhere from 5%-15%.  The onset of the DTs can appear within hours of withdrawal or may appear after two to three days after alcohol cessation.  The DTs can last up to seven days and usually peaks around the fourth day. It’s been estimated that about 30% of those who experience seizures during alcohol withdrawal will also experience the DTs.

The most common medical treatment for Delirium Tremens includes the use of benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines are sedatives that help calm the nervous system. Popular withdrawal benzodiazepines include Valium, Ativan and in serious cases Restoril.  Hospitalization is usually required as it is imperative that medical supervision is available 24 hours a day.  Because the DTs can be a serious medical condition, families and friends need to be aware of the signs and symptoms whenever their loved one decides to quit drinking.

Prior to quitting alcohol, it’s extremely important to consult with a medical professional.  Medical supervision is highly recommended as alcohol withdrawal can be fatal. Speak to your doctor or call your local hospital for references and referrals. You can also check the yellow pages for Alcohol Detox facilities, specialists and treatment facilities.

©2011 Signsofalcoholism.org


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