Delirium tremens, main symptoms

Delirium tremens, main symptoms

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It is well known by everyone to abuse certain excesses in life can take its toll At some point in our life. More if we talk about excesses with alcohol. Therefore, it is important that you know its consequences to act in the best possible way.


  • 1 Who can suffer from delirium tremens?
  • 2 What are the symptoms of delirium tremens?
  • 3 What can you do if you suffer or know of someone suffering from delirium tremens?

Who can suffer from delirium tremens?

Put more briefly, we could say that delirium tremens can occur after having consumed alcohol in an exaggerated way for a long time. It occurs after a period of alcohol withdrawal. Even more so when the person has been consuming alcohol for a long time.

So people who drink large amounts of alcohol for several days in a row, over a prolonged period, are the ones who will have the most propensity to suffer from delirium tremens. Therefore, there is a direct relationship between time consuming alcohol and the probability of suffering it.

Many other times, it can occur after a head injury, another disease or even an infection if the person has been an excess alcohol consumer and has suffered alcohol poisoning frequently in the past. So, even if it does not happen in the hours after the last consumption, there is a risk with other types of situations.

Delirium tremens is due to alcohol withdrawal, causing strong nervous system changes and the mental state of the one who suffers it. Therefore, watch closely if you know someone who has a great history of alcoholism, as they are the most likely to suffer.

And, although a priori we can think that following a brief season a routine of alcohol consumption nothing happens, entering the loop is easier than one thinks. And so, it is not so difficult to end up eating almost two liters of wine per day, more than three liters of beer or half a liter of liquors, quantities that trigger the risk.

What are the symptoms of delirium tremens?

We must pay attention to the following hours of the last alcoholic intake, as the symptoms do not manifest immediately, but from two to four days after the last consumption. However, they can appear up to seven or ten days later.

In addition, all these symptoms, far from mitigating and softening with the passing of the hours, do nothing but grow in intensity and very quickly. Therefore, it is very important not to take a minute to take the appropriate measures to give the notice and start treating it.

Among its symptoms are sudden delirium, sudden changes in mental state, irritability, fear, hallucinations, body tremors, energy outbursts or, conversely, a deep sleep It can last more than 24 hours and hypersensitivity to touch, light and ear.

There is another very noticeable symptom that can also occur in isolation without having manifested the others at any previous time: seizures. Especially from 12 to 48 hours since the last alcohol consumption. So you have to be aware.

In addition, other symptoms may also occur. easily confused with a cold or flu, such as fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, pale skin, fever, pain in other parts of the body such as chest and belly and excessive sweating.

What can you do if you suffer or know of someone suffering from delirium tremens?

First of all, you must know that you are before a very serious emergency and it is crucial to act as quickly and diligently as possible. So, as a first step, get in touch with the emergency service or health care services so they can act as soon as possible.

Once the medical team has analyzed the state of the victim of delirium tremens, it will be hospitalized with the objective of alleviate the symptoms and put treatment to prevent a future episode. Therefore, having acted quickly from the beginning will condition the success of the treatment.

Once the person is already hospitalized and receiving treatment, it is best that stay as calm as possible, being sedated if necessary. The first thing will be to stabilize your condition, because the necessary treatment will begin once you leave the hospital to return to your normal life.

Thus, the patient must abandon all alcohol consumption for a lifetime, for which it will be of utmost importance to attend specialized consultancies. The support groups deserve special mention where they feel surrounded by other people who are going through the same.

In conclusion…

The best way to prevent it is avoid or reduce alcohol consumption. And, despite taking a treatment for withdrawal after delirium tremens, recovery will be hard and there may be several episodes of insomnia, fatigue and mental ups and downs for several months. It is certainly to think about.


American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Fifth edition. DSM-V Masson, Barcelona

Marta Moreno, J. Practical approach to delirium. Masson, 2004.

Ropper AH, Brown RH. (2007) Delirium and other acute confusional states. Mexico. Editorial Mc Graw-Hill Interamerican.




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