Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS) is several symptoms that appear after an alcoholic person suddenly stops drinking. The symptoms may appear anywhere from a few hours to a few days depending on the quantity and time frame which alcohol was last consumed. A person with alcohol withdrawal syndrome can experience the following symptoms such as:
- Heightened anxiety
- Elevated heart rate
- Excessive sweating
The symptoms may persist for several weeks and can be felt strongly first thing in the morning when there is reduced alcohol in the person’s bloodstream. Perhaps the most severe symptom of alcohol withdrawal is delirium tremens (DT) where the person’s mental state is severely affected. The symptoms range from mild confusion to visual and auditory hallucinations that are often accompanied by high fever and extreme agitation.
Delirium tremens has a high mortality rate and is considered a medical emergency in almost all cases. If a person suffering from DT fails to receive medical attention, it can result in death. Early recognition and treatment are crucial to prevent these symptoms from occurring and today, we’ll be discussing everything you need to know about alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Leading drug and alcohol rehab centers in Bali such as Calm Rehab are always available should you require any further information than what is written below.
Diagnosis of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome
A physical exam is conducted wherein the physician will look for signs such as irregular heart rate, shaky hands, fever, and dehydration. They may also call in for a toxicology screen to measure the amount of alcohol in the person’s bloodstream. Blood tests and imaging tests can reveal if there is any internal organ damage suffered from excessive alcohol intake.
The physician will ask the patient about their drinking history and how recently they’ve stopped drinking alcohol. During a physical exam, the physician will look for other medical conditions that could indicate alcohol withdrawal syndrome.
How Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome is Treated
Treatment of AWS depends on the severity of the symptoms. Some people can be treated by proper rest and rehydration, while others may require supervised medical care to prevent potentially dangerous complications. The goal is to manage the symptoms and make the patient as comfortable as possible. Unless you’ve experienced serious withdrawals in the past, all it takes is a supportive environment that’ll help you get through. This includes resting in a place that’s quiet and free of distractions. The area should have soft lighting and the patient should be provided with healthy food and lots of water to keep their body hydrated.
If the patient’s heart rate, body temperature, or blood pressure rises, the physician may suggest inpatient care and drug treatment to combat other serious symptoms like hallucinations and seizures. Antipsychotics and anti-seizure drugs are prescribed by the doctor along with medications like benzodiazepines to manage symptoms like insomnia and anxiety. Also, vitamin supplements may be prescribed to replace essential vitamins that have been depleted due to excessive alcohol intake. The physician will also recommend nutrient-dense foods to address any nutritional deficiencies to help restore the function of the vital organs.
Also, if the patient’s home environment is not conducive for managing their withdrawal symptoms, they can discuss the situation with their physician and schedule an alcohol counselling session. The doctor will help the patient find an appropriate place to rest and recover while managing their withdrawal symptoms. Severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms require medical supervision inside a hospital where the patient is injected with IV fluids to prevent dehydration and minimise the severity of the symptoms.
Recovering from Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome
Most people who experience alcohol withdrawal syndrome tend to recover fully. Once the patient has stopped alcohol drinking and undergone appropriate treatment, the prognosis leans towards the positive side. However, expect to have increased anxiety and irritability over the next few months as the body continues to adjust with no alcohol in the bloodstream. Going through an alcohol counselling session will go a long way towards ensuring the patient does not resort to their old, destructive habits and maintain a clean and sober lifestyle.
Knowing how to identify the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome is crucial to preventing delirium tremens. The onset of DT can prove fatal if the symptoms aren’t managed. The sooner the person is treated, the better their chances of avoiding life-threatening complications. The best way to prevent alcohol withdrawal syndrome is to avoid excessive alcohol drinking. There are plenty of alcohol treatment programs available for those who struggle with quitting alcohol. For example, there are specialised rehab facilities that house treatment specialists who help patients cope with the painful withdrawal symptoms as well as guiding them on their journey to recovery.
Although alcohol withdrawal can be a dangerous process, it’s a vital step in the right direction. When the patient is guided under the supervision of medical professionals, the process will be much safer and easier.
Overseen by our GP with extensive experience in withdrawal management, Calm Rehab’s medical team are on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week to oversee the health and well-being of our clients. For more information on Calm’s services please contact us at [email protected]