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You are here : AllRefer.com > Health > Diseases & Conditions > Delirium tremens : Symptoms, Diagnosis & Tests

Delirium tremens

Alternate Names : DT's, Alcohol withdrawal - delirium tremens


Symptoms & Signs

Symptoms most commonly occur within 72 hours after the last drink, but may occur up to 7 - 10 days after the last drink. Symptoms may get worse rapidly, and can include:

  • Body tremors
  • Mental status changes
    • Agitation, irritability
    • Confusion, disorientation
    • Decreased attention span
    • Decreased mental status
      • Deep sleep that persists for a day or longer
      • Stupor, sleepiness, lethargy
      • Usually occurs after acute symptoms
    • Delirium (severe, acute loss of mental functions)
    • Excitement
    • Fear
    • Hallucinations (such as seeing or feeling things that are not present are most common)
    • Highly sensitive to light, sound, touch
    • Increased activity
    • Mood changes rapidly
    • Restlessness, excitement
  • Seizures
    • Most common in first 24 - 48 hours after last drink
    • Most common in people with previous complications from alcohol withdrawal
    • Usually generalized tonic-clonic seizures
  • Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal

Additional symptoms that may occur:

Diagnosis & Tests

Delirium tremens is a medical emergency.

The health care provider will perform a physical exam. Signs may include:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Increased startle reflex
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Problems with eye muscle movement
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Rapid muscle tremors

The following tests may be done:





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Review Date : 3/3/2009
Reviewed By : David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.



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