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Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

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Alcohol withdrawal symptoms range from minor symptoms such as insomnia to severe complications such as withdrawal seizures and delirium tremens. While most patients undergoing alcohol withdrawal can be treated safely and effectively as outpatients, others require a residential treatment center with medical detoxification. Both outpatient and residential treatment programs use pharmacologic treatment for patients going through alcohol withdrawal which involves the use of medications that are cross-tolerant with alcohol. Regardless to how alcohol withdrawal is treated, it should be followed up with treatment for alcohol dependency.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Commonly, the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal  will begin in 6 to 12 hours after stopping the use of alcohol. Minor alcohol withdrawal symptoms may include insomnia, tremulousness, mildanxiety, gastrointestinal upset, headache, diaphoresis, palpitations, anorexia. Some patients may experience alcoholic hallucinosis, which consists of visual, auditory, or tactile hallucinations, these symptoms may occur within 12 to 24 hours from stopping the use of alcohol.

Patients who have a history of multiple episodes of detoxification are at risk of developing withdrawal seizures, with 24 to 48 hours from stopping the use of alcohol. Patients with a severe dependency to alcohol may experence alcohol withdrawal delirium, or delirium tremens, which is characterized by clouding of consciousness and delirium, often occuring 48 to 72 hours after stopping the use of alcohol. There is a death rate of 1 to 5 percent for those who experience deliriuam tremens. Those at risk of deveoping deliriuam tremens often have a concurrent acute medical illness, daily heavy alcohol use, history of delirium tremens or withdrawal seizures, older age, abnormal liver function, and more severe withdrawal symptoms.

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