Enjoying over a drink is a common sight these days. Even, an alcoholic drink has been a major support to people with stress and depression issues.
Gradually, people who drink too often and too much, develop a habit of consuming alcohol. They may either be termed as alcohol abusers or alcohol addicted people.
Some of them become so dependent on alcohol, that when they try to overcome their dependency, alcohol does not let them to do so.
Quitting alcohol becomes very difficult as something called “alcohol withdrawal” interferes with the treatment process.
Let us study a little more about it. It will help you to deal with the alcohol withdrawal in the correct manner.
Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is a condition faced by the people who are dependent upon the alcohol. This is a life-threatening condition, and the symptoms can be fatal many a times.
To be exactly said, Alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) is linked to the symptoms one exhibits when he or she is a heavy drinker, and reduces alcohol consumption abruptly or suddenly.
When people drink alcohol for many months and years, their body gets adapted to alcohol. So, when he stops drinking all of a sudden or tries to go for the treatment in which alcohol is avoided, they experience certain set of symptoms.
These symptoms can begin as soon as you have passed about 2 hours from your last drink. The symptoms may also arise after weeks or after months.
The person experiences anxiety problems and weakness. Many severe complications can also arise. The intensity and frequency of the symptoms frighten people, thus immediate medical advice need to be taken.
There are proper treatments for alcohol withdrawal syndrome, which can really help people to fight with this difficult situation.
Signs and Symptoms Of Alcohol Withdrawal
The appearance of the signs and the symptoms vary according to the dependency of an individual on alcohol. The symptoms may come up as early as within two hours and as long as in weeks. Here is the list of signs and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.
- Anxiety issues
- Nausea and constant vomiting
- Heart rate increases, and many other heart related issues might be linked
- Shaking and trembling body
- Blood pressure problems
As the time progress, the intensity of the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal increases. The condition worsens and the symptoms seem to be horrific. They are easily noticeable by the people around.
A complication of alcohol withdrawal is delirium tremens (DT). The signs and symptoms are given below:
- Extreme irritation
- Extreme confusion
- Extreme mood swings
- Fever and seizures
- Hallucinations, which can be tactile, auditory or visual based.
If more than two symptoms exist in your case, kindly consult a doctor who can guide you the best through your alcohol withdrawal syndrome. This is implied because the severe symptoms can take up your life as well.
Mild Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
The mild alcohol withdrawal symptoms lead to very serious conditions gradually. You need to be aware of exactly what are the mild symptoms. We have mentioned it above. Read the points below as well-
- The anxiety level increases. There is more fidgeting, more nervousness, more worrisome brain, more confusion!
- The stress level reaches heights level by level.
- Whenever the anxiety levels rise up, drinking alcohol buries all the problems. This symptom shows the dependency of a person on alcohol.
- Nausea persists.
- Heart beat rises.
- Hallucinations of mild level.
- Palpitations and trembling body
- Headache is every now and then.
- Hard time with memory
- Disruption in overall brain function
- Alcohol cravings
There is more to add in this. The one who experiences knows it all. You have to take care of the fact that these mild symptoms do not turn out to be severe complications.
The symptoms may go high and then low, and then again high followed by low. You have to understand the stage you or your loved one is going through, and then work accordingly in overcoming the situation.
Alcohol Withdrawal Headache
Headache is another significant alcohol withdrawal symptom. It is mild in the beginning, and begins to attack you each day as the time progresses. People complain about the headache issues all day.
It can be killing! It will not let you work or carry out any other day to day activity.
Headache may persist all day long, or even for days. Or else, it may get vanished in a day itself. It is the way your body craves for alcohol, in a way.
Your body has become used to alcohol, and a major portion of brain has been affected due to it. It takes time to deal and get adapted to situations.
You have to consult a doctor if headache persists more than 4 to 5 days.
Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline
Alcohol withdrawal is a gradual process, which worsens over the time period. It has a specific timeline, which conveys to us how the symptoms will show up and up to what time period they may persist.
6 to 12 hours after you have stopped drinking
In this time period, the symptoms are mild and very minor.
- Disturbance in sleeping. The person is not able to sleep properly. He keeps on rolling on sides, and there is some unusual feeling which does not let him sleep.
- Minor hand tremors are there
- Stress issues and anxiety levels begin to take shape, although they are of low level.
- Upset stomach and related issues.
- Loss of appetite
- Sweating and palpitations
- Mild headaches.
- 12 to 48 hours after you have stopped drinking
- Hallucinations which may be tactile, auditory or visual based. For example, a person may feel a burning sensation or itching on a specific area, where actually no such problem exists.
Auditory hallucinations include hearing sounds which are really not there and visual hallucinations include seeing things which have no such actual presence.
- Withdrawal seizures
- General tonic-clonic seizures
- 48 to 72 hours after you have stopped drinking
- The hallucinations which involve visual problems are a common sight
- Delirium tremens is a common problem.
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure.
- The temperature of the body rises
- Heavy sweating and palpitation
How Long Does Alcohol Withdrawal Last
There is no specific time of the withdrawal symptoms to end. The symptoms take a few days to achieve the peak level, and then they have lasting effects on your body.
If you immediately consult a doctor, and seek proper advice, the time period of withdrawal symptoms to last is reduced. The risk factor is lowered and your body begins on a voyage to overcome the alcohol dependency.
If you remain active at the very correct time, you can really help yourself with the alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Alcohol Withdrawal Scale
The symptoms appear with different intensity and specifications. The alcohol withdrawal scale signifies how much a person has reached in its level of withdrawal symptoms.
The points are used to denote how much “severe” the symptoms are.
|Pulse (beats per minute)|
|Less than 90||0|
|90 to 110||1|
|More than 110||2|
|Barely any sweat, except in palms||2|
|Beads of sweat visible||4|
|Severe and Continuous||3|
|Agitation and Irritation|
|A bit more than normal||3|
|Restless and moderately fidgeting||6|
|Thrashing and very high anxiety||9|
Alcohol Withdrawal Seizures
Seizure refers to the abnormal activity exhibited by the person. It is commonly known by the name of “convulsion”. During the convulsions, the muscles contract and relax continuously.
A shaking phenomenon can also be noticed and the actions may be uncontrollable many a times. In general, tonic-clonic seizures are the most characteristic.
These withdrawal seizures arise due to the neuronal networks on the brain stem. Alcohol causes disruption in the functions of the transmitters, and results in the severe changes.
The time of occurrence of alcohol withdrawal seizures is from 6 hours after cessation to 48 hours.
Alcohol Withdrawal Delirium
Delirium Tremens or alcohol withdrawal delirium or DT, is a set of extreme signs and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.
It has been observed that this complication is life threatening, and has turned out to be fatal in every 5 out of 100 cases.
The liver condition is very poor in this state, and a person is not able to tolerate the heaviness of the symptoms.
Acute Alcohol Withdrawal
Acute alcohol withdrawal is another state of health where the patients bear a set of mild and moderate symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. The problems include:
- Withdrawal symptoms which are unbearable and uncomfortable
- Wernicke korsakoff syndrome
- Depression and anxiety
- Abuse of other substances
- Electrolytic disturbances in the body
- Liver problems
And many more!
Alcohol Withdrawal Death
Some people are highly dependent upon alcohol. In many cases, such dependency leads to severe seizures and can be as fatal as leading to death. How does it happen?
Seizures cause the individual to inhale food, which leads to choking and ultimately to death. Also, many people have reported about the cases in which the individual has hit his own head while being through seizure and hence, died.
Common alcohol withdrawal symptoms have been mentioned as sleeping problems, upset stomach, sweating and increased heart rate. If we move on high up to another level, we observe hallucinations, fast heart rate and high blood pressure.
Human mind is well aware of the fact that alcohol is toxic for our body, but still it consumes it without any doubt. The body of an alcoholic is adapted to the alcohol and thus “needs” it.
Therefore, whenever the individual abstains from it, a set of severe symptoms compel the individual to have another drink and bring peace to the havoc inside the body.
But, who knows that that specific drink can be your last drink! Kidney, liver and heart dysfunctions have been observed widely in heavy alcohol consumers. Are you one of them?
Alcohol Withdrawal Treatment
As soon as you come to know that alcohol withdrawal symptoms are showing up, you should consult the doctor. Seeking medical advice at the right time can help in recovering and treatment process to a great deal. You can get the treatment at home or at the healthcare centre.
Patients who are experiencing seizures and more complications, they are required to stay in the hospitals for emergency care and guidance.
The first priority is about getting rid of the symptoms. Thorough counselling is also provided and the patient is taken care of nicely.
The treatment of mild symptoms is done at home. Someone close to the patient should always be there with him. Regular visits and contact should be made with the doctor. Regular test reports should be maintained as well.
Hospitalisation becomes necessary when the symptoms become severe and no more care can be taken at home. Dehydration situation should be tackled thoroughly, which will help to ease the process of treatment.
Alcohol Withdrawal Medication
Treatment is incomplete without proper medication. Medicinal drugs become an important part of the life of an alcohol addict. Sedatives called benzodiazepines are often used in the treatment process. Some common sedatives are- Ativan, Klonopin, Xanax, Valium etc.
In addition to these sedatives, some nutritional supplements can also be given to the patient. This helps in overcoming the nutritional deficiencies caused due to alcohol consumption.
Alcohol Withdrawal Guidelines
Some guidelines are there to guide you through the alcohol dependency and addiction. Try to remember them on tips, and catch them whenever needed.
- Benzodiazepines are the most significant medication of alcohol withdrawal. They prevent seizures and DT.
- The dose and duration of the medication varies with the individual’s condition.
- As soon as the individual or close associative comes to know about the alcohol withdrawal symptoms of the person, they should consult doctor for proper medical advice.
- Antipsychotic medication should not be used all alone for managing the AWS.
- Oral thiamine is necessary to be given to all patients.
- Periodic monitoring of the various stages of alcohol withdrawal should be done.
- For the management of severe symptoms, inpatient care and SML dose is advised.
As you consult your doctor, he will advise you something which needs to be followed properly. Stay determined!
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