What Is Alcohol Withdrawal?
If you drink excessively for weeks, months, or years, you may experience mental and physical problems if you stop or reduce alcohol consumption. This is called the withdrawal of alcohol. Symptoms can range from mild to severe.
If you drink only once in a while, you are less likely to have withdrawal symptoms if you stop. But if you have ever had a relapse with alcohol, there is a good chance you will experience it again the next time you finish.
Causes of Alcohol Withdrawal
Alcohol has what doctors call a depressing effect on your system. Reduces brain activity and alters the way your nerves send messages back and forth.
Over time, your central nervous system turns to alcohol at all times. Your body is working hard to keep your brain alert and to keep your senses.
When alcohol levels suddenly drop, your brain stays in the key position. That is what causes the withdrawal.
Timeline of Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can range from mild to severe. What you do depends on how much you drink and how long.
6 hours after quitting: Soft symptoms may begin 6 hours after putting down your glass. Can include:
- Shivering hands
- A headache
- shingles treatment
12-48 hours after your last drink: Serious problems, including hallucinations, may begin at this time and may include hallucinations (approximately 12-24 hours after quitting) and fainting within the first 2 days after stopping. You can see, hear, or hear things that are not there. Learn more about the timeline for withdrawal symptoms.
48-72 hours after quitting: Delirium tremens, or DT as you may hear it, usually start at this time of year. These are difficult symptoms that include hallucinations and delusions. Only about 5% of people who drink alcohol have it. Those who do may be:
- A running heart
- High blood pressure
- Sweating hard
- diseases treatment
Identifying Alcohol Withdrawal
If your doctor thinks you may be under the influence of alcohol, he or she will ask you questions about your drinking history and how you recently quit. They will want to know if you have withdrawn before.
They will also discuss your symptoms. During the test, they will look at other medical conditions to see if they can be found guilty.
Treatments for Alcohol Withdrawal
Unless you have a serious health condition or have been very withdrawn in the past, you probably will not need more than a supportive environment to help you get through it. That includes:
- Quiet place
- Soft light
- Limited connections with people
- A good, supportive atmosphere
- Healthy food and plenty of fluids
If you decide to receive treatment, your doctor may recommend the type of care you need.
If your blood pressure, heart rate, or body temperature are rising, or if you have severe symptoms such as fainting and blurred vision, seek medical attention immediately (call 911). Your doctor may recommend patient care and drug treatment.
Common medications include benzodiazepines to help treat symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, and fainting. You can also take anti-seizure meds and antipsychotics, as well as other drugs.
Can You Prevent It?
Treating alcohol withdrawal is a temporary solution that does not address the underlying problem. If you are talking to your doctor about symptom relief, it is a good idea to discuss treatment for alcohol abuse or dependence. Your doctor can offer some advice to help you stop drinking.
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