Understanding Alcohol Withdrawal: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Prevention

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June 26, 2021

Understanding Alcohol Withdrawal: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Prevention

When a person starts drinking alcohol on a regular note, then your brain starts demanding it’s need every day, every time. If your brain adjusts to the heavy usage of alcohol, then it becomes difficult to withdraw from it and when a person tries for it, his/her nervous system doesn’t adapt easily. 

First of all, let’s understand the meaning of alcohol withdrawal.

Alcohol withdrawal takes place when a person who consumes large amounts of alcohol stops drinking suddenly or gradually. In both the cases, the chemistry of the brain gets changed drastically. A person starts experiencing distress or harm related to the alcoholic beverages. Approximately more than 50% of population develop clinically relevant alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome:

Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome is the name given for the symptoms that emerge when a person reduces or shuns alcohol consumption. It occurs when a person stops or reduces the consumption of alcohol after prolonged usage. A person experiences a lot of physical and emotional symptoms from fatigue to anxiety to seizures to nausea. It can be even life – threatening. 

What are the symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome?

The symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome appear in between of six hours to a few days after the last drink. These symptoms may range from mild to serious. So, let’s look at them without any further delay:

  1. Hand tremors
  2. Irregular heartbeats
  3. High fever
  4. Vomiting/Nausea
  5. Depression
  6. Headaches
  7. Irritability
  8. Anxiety

Even more dangerous symptoms can be noticed which usually appear between 24 and 48 hours after drinking. Let’s find out them:

  • Sleep Disorders
  • Seizures
  • Excessive Sweating
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Delirium 
  • Hallucinations
  • Rapid Heartbeat

How to diagnose alcohol withdrawal symptom?

A doctor can easily evaluate and diagnose alcohol withdrawal symptom through a physical examination. The examination will include a complete medical history entailing severity of the alcohol use disorder and other conflicting medical conditions. Blood tests and other exams are also able to rule out other medical conditions when diagnosing alcohol withdrawal. Symptoms like – anxiety, agitation, headache, confusion or auditory disturbances are included on the assessment.

What are the treatments to overcome alcohol withdrawal syndrome?

A detox center or a rehab facility offer treatment for detox while managing the more dangerous symptoms of withdrawal with medication and care. Let’s understand about different categories followed by them to fight back alcohol withdrawal syndrome:

  1. Drinking Water: It is one of the best home remedies for alcohol withdrawal syndrome. During withdrawal, a person starts vomiting and sweating excessively. Your body starts losing a lot of water. That’s when drinking abundance of water helps you a lot. It reduces the risk of dehydration and other symptoms like – fatigue and headache. 
  2. Inpatient Treatment: This treatment involves 24 – hour care. Patients remain under medical supervision which can last for 30 days, 60 days or even 90 days. Doctors can intervene if the withdrawal symptoms are severe. Patients are also able to evaluate their symptoms and measure improvement in their health.
  3. Medication Assistant Treatment: Medications relieve the symptoms of withdrawal and provide comfort during detox process. Doctors may prescribe medication to help patients focus on their recovery. It is also known as anti – seizure medication which helps treat anxiety, and insomnia.
  4. Pharmacotherapy: It is often necessary for treating patients suffering from alcohol withdrawal symptoms. It prevents progression to the serious complications and provides the effective treatment for maintaining long – term sobriety. Pharmacotherapy is known for its unlimited benefits like – improved rate of patient survival, decreased substance related criminal involvement, increased retention in the treatment programs, higher chances of gaining employment and also prove effective in pregnancies affected by the substance use.
  5. 5. Nutritional Therapy: Sometimes due to nutritional deficiencies in patients, a person suffers from a lot of issues during alcohol withdrawal. In order to combat this suffering, nutritional supplements are given. Thiamine and folic acids are routinely administered. Magnesium supplementation is also recommended as serum magnesium levels become below during alcohol withdrawal
  6. Benodiazepines:  These drugs are physicians’ agents of choice in order to manage a large portion of the problematic withdrawal symptoms. Benodiazepines can significantly reduce the major of risks of seizures and tremors. These drugs play a relatively more important role in managing withdrawal symptoms of elders. 
  7. Focus on relaxing techniques: Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are not easy to bear. You can overcome them with controlled breathing, meditation, yoga or a warm shower. Get in touch with a yoga teacher or a meditator who can help manage your psychological symptoms.
  8. Counselling: Individual counselling is one of the best ways to manage emotions during and after detoxification process. A counsellor tries to understand the factors that have contributed to alcohol abuse and has set up a support to prevent a relapse. 

FAQs:

Q1. What is alcohol withdrawal?
Ans. Alcohol withdrawal is a condition when a heavy drinker suddenly stops drinking alcohol or reduces the alcohol consumption. People who drink alcohol for a prolonged period of time and suddenly stop drinking are at higher risk of experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Q2. What are the alcohol withdrawal symptoms?
Ans. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms include sweating, racing heart, blood pressure, fever, confusion, hallucination, delusions etc.

Q3. When do alcohol withdrawal symptoms occur?
Ans. Alcohol withdrawal symptom can occur as early as two hours after your last drink. However, symptoms will peak within the first 24 to 48 hours upon cessation.

Q4. Can alcohol withdrawal lead to death?
Ans. Yes, in several cases alcohol withdrawal can often lead to death.

Q5. Why does alcohol withdrawal cause seizures?
Ans. When a person suddenly stops drinking alcohol, the brain functioning gets misbalanced. This results into seizure. A seizure creates an abnormal electrical activity in both sides and hemispheres of the brain.

Q6. How to get through alcohol withdrawal?
Ans.  You can get through alcohol withdrawal by performing deep breathing activities, drinking a lot of water and eating nutritional food.

Q7. What medication is used for alcohol withdrawal?
Ans. Techniques like – Pharmacotherapy, Benodiazepines, Nutritional Therapy and Inpatient care some of the effective medication for alcohol withdrawal.

Q8.  Can alcohol withdrawal cause headaches?
Ans. Yes, headaches appear as some of the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

Here at Anatta Humanversity, we help people deal with the alcohol withdrawal phase with great patience. Our rehab centre is well equipped with all the resources which help a person to remain positive during this phase. Our medical professionals, therapists, counsellors, addiction therapists prove to be highly productive during alcohol withdrawal process.

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