Delirium tremens

Delirium tremens

Last Reviewed : 12/25/2020
Delirium tremens

Delirium tremens (DTs) is a rapid onset of confusion usually caused by withdrawal from alcohol. When it occurs, it is often three days into the withdrawal symptoms and lasts for two to three days. People may also see or hear things other people do not. Physical effects may include shaking, shivering, irregular heart rate, and sweating. Occasionally, a very high body temperature or seizures may result in death. Alcohol is one of the most dangerous drugs to experience withdrawal from.

Delirium tremens typically only occurs in people with a high intake of alcohol for more than a month. A similar syndrome may occur with benzodiazepine and barbiturate withdrawal. Withdrawal from stimulants such as cocaine does not have major medical complications. In a person with delirium tremens it is important to rule out other associated problems such as electrolyte abnormalities, pancreatitis, and alcoholic hepatitis.

Prevention is by treating withdrawal symptoms. If delirium tremens occurs, aggressive treatment improves outcomes. Treatment in a quiet intensive care unit with sufficient light is often recommended. Benzodiazepines are the medication of choice with diazepam, lorazepam, chlordiazepoxide, and oxazepam all commonly used. They should be given until a person is lightly sleeping. The antipsychotic haloperidol may also be used. The vitamin thiamine is recommended. Mortality without treatment is between 15% and 40%. Currently death occurs in about 1% to 4% of cases.

About half of people with alcoholism will develop withdrawal symptoms upon reducing their use. Of these, three to five percent develop DTs or have seizures. The name delirium tremens was first used in 1813; however, the symptoms were well described since the 1700s. The word "delirium" is Latin for "going off the furrow," a plowing metaphor. It is also called shaking frenzy and Saunders-Sutton syndrome. Nicknames include barrel-fever, blue horrors, bottleache, bats, drunken horrors, elephants, gallon distemper, quart mania, pink spiders, among others.


We researched this topic for you and found the following best online resources. They are categorized into basic, advanced, and research level based on the extent of information you need. You will be taken to the respective websites by pressing on the links below.


Basic information: medline plus delirium tremens health line alcohol withdrawal delirium web md alcohol withdrawal new york times delirium tremens raging alcoholic alcohol withdrawal – what, why, when, etc. empower her delirium tremens (dts): symptoms, causes, risks and treatments merck manuals (professional version) alcohol toxicity and withdrawal very well what is it like to go through alcohol withdrawal?kevin recalls going through dts


Advanced information: medscape delirium tremens (dts) medscape delirium tremens (dts) treatment & management patient acute alcohol withdrawal and delirium tremens dove med delirium tremens upto date management of moderate and severe alcohol withdrawal syndromes alcohol withdrawal syndrome max bayard, m.d., jonah mcintyre, m.d., keith r. Hill, m.d., and jack woodside, jr., m.d., east tennessee state university, james h. Quillen college of medicine, johnson city, tennessee am fam physician. 2004 mar 15;69(6):1443-1450.


Research: recognition and management of withdrawal delirium (delirium tremens) by marc a. Schuckit, m.d. N engl j med 2014; 371:2109-2113november 27, 2014doi: 10.1056/nejmra1407298 vidence-based reviews who’s at greatest risk for delirium tremens current psychiatry. 2003 january;2(1):14-19 author(s): christopher pelic, md ,hugh myrick, md

Sehgal v, bajwa sj, consalvo ja, bajaj a, sehgal r. Delirium tremens in the elderly: emerging role of dexmedetomidine. Int j nutr pharmacol neurol dis [serial online] 2015 [cited 2016 nov 30];5:89-94. Available from:

Talikoti at, sindhu b s, kavyashree s p, kishore kumar k s. Alcoholic delirium tremens with hollow viscus perforation scheduled for emergency laparotomy. Indian j anaesth [serial online] 2012 [cited 2016 nov 30];56:189-92. Available from: david schwartzberg and adam shiroff, “repetitive myocardial infarctions secondary to delirium tremens,”case reports in critical care, vol. 2014, article id 638493, 3 pages, 2014. Doi:10.1155/2014/638493

Kattimani s, bharadwaj b. Clinical management of alcohol withdrawal: a systematic review. Ind psychiatry j [serial online] 2013 [cited 2016 nov 30];22:100-8. Available from: acute coronary ischemia during alcohol withdrawal: a case report by chaturaka rodrigo et al., journal of medical case reports20115:369 doi: 10.1186/1752-1947-5-369

Mahajan r, singh r, bansal pd, bala r. Use of propofol as adjuvant therapy in refractory delirium tremens. Ind psychiatry j [serial online] 2010 [cited 2016 nov 30];19:58-9. Available from:


Related topics: marijuana doctors medical marijuana and delirium tremens hpathy delirium tremens


Other helpful resources(support groups): alcohol rehabs


Related videos: delirium tremens alcohol withdrawal seizure, delirium tremens delirium tremens



Presentations/quiz/newspaper articles: daily mail 'i want people to remember the holocaust': wife of vladimir putin's spokesman defends outrageous jewish concentration camp dance for russian ice skating tv show

read more:

Please leave your comments:

Related Articles