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Delirium: symptoms and treatment, stages of development

Alcohol is firmly entrenched in human life as a means of relaxation and the subject of a festive table. However, reputable scientists cite the results of research in which alcoholic beverages are identified with drugs. The media does not like this information, of course, since big money is involved in this matter. Yet the notion of delirium tremens is known to almost everyone, even if it is exaggerated.

What it is? Delirium is insanity in Latin. If the condition appears due to alcohol abuse, then it is said that it is delirium tremens.

Psychiatrists and narcologists christened the disease of white fever, and in common people it is called “squirrel”. The danger of an illness lies in marked mental and somatic disorders that not everyone can survive - approximately 10% of patients die.

When does it start and who has it?

Delirium: symptoms and treatment

The disease occurs in people suffering from 2 and 3 stages of alcoholism (5-7 years of alcohol abuse). The condition occurs 1-3 days after the cessation of binge, in some cases - 4-6 days.

In clinical practice, there are cases of the development of delirium tremens due to the surrogate alcoholic poisoning of people, for whom no such dependence has been noticed before. In the light of the abundance of falsification in the market, the problem is becoming large.

In addition, if a person previously had craniocerebral injuries or diseases of the central nervous system, then the likelihood of development of delirium is high.

Doctors focus on the fact that people who have once suffered alcoholic psychosis may repeat the "squirrel" even after small doses of alcohol.

How long does it take?

The main harbingers of such a mental disorder are sleep disturbance and anxiety. The dullness of reason usually lasts 3-5 days, and during this time the situation may change for the better or worse.

A good sign is the normalization of sleep, but often a person simply falls into a frenzy, becomes inadequate and dangerous. Characteristic stages of alcoholic delirium differ in symptoms, although only slightly.


Symptoms of alcohol delirium

Symptoms of alcohol delirium

Signs of the disease are divided into 2 types - mental and somatic. They manifest themselves in a complex, so doctors rarely have doubts about the diagnosis. So, with delirium tremens, the symptoms are as follows:

1. Mental:

  • sleep disturbance (insomnia, nightmares);
  • anxiety;
  • rave;
  • panic feeling of fear;
  • hallucinations (visual, auditory, tactile);
  • excessive arousal;
  • disorientation in time and space.

2. Somatic:

  • hand tremor;
  • sweating;
  • increase in heart rate (over 100);
  • increase in blood pressure to 180/110;
  • temperature increase up to 39-40 ° C;
  • dyspnea;
  • headache;
  • vomiting;
  • seizures (rarely);
  • redness of the face.

Hallucinations are the key feature of delirium tremens. Many people know the expression "drunk to hell"? For sick people, this is not a joke at all. In their reality, they see various animals (beetles, spiders) crawling through their bodies, or fairy-tale creatures (devils, gnomes, elves).

The imagination of such a person is so unpredictable that he not only observes visual images, but also feels their touch. In the fight against these "devils", the patient often injures himself, although aggression is usually not the case against outsiders.

Among other disorders, there is a violation of water-salt homeostasis, which is caused by a general change in metabolism. With prolonged drinking and drinking in humans, the concentration of ethanol in the blood rises so much that the body throws all its strength into its elimination.

Because of this, metabolic processes are less intense. Moreover, such a course of events provokes disturbances in the work of the internal organs, which are so serious that they cause death.

Stages of alcohol delirium

Independently getting out of the state of madness is very problematic, especially in the later stages of the disease. Doctors, describing delirium tremens, types and stages of development, give the following characteristic of the disease:

1. Stage I — Deliberate Deliberate:

  • symptoms are superficial;
  • a person maintains an awareness of his personality;
  • the state is normalized and without medical assistance.

2. Stage II - a committed delirium:

  • bright symptoms;
  • self healing is impossible;
  • in the absence of therapy, it almost always goes into the third stage.

3. Stage III - life-threatening delirium:

  • all mental and somatic symptoms are expressed;
  • slurred speech;
  • reduced response to any stimuli;
  • decrease in blood pressure and pulse (unlike stages I and II);
  • man ceases to be aware of himself.

Treatment of alcohol delirium

Treatment of alcohol delirium

Alcohol delirium is not treated at home - the patient is hospitalized in a neuropsychiatric hospital. However, doctors do not have a clear opinion on the treatment of the disease.

For example, in the countries of Europe, clomethiazole is used, and in the Russian Federation and the USA - substances from the group of benzodiazepines. Such drugs have a pronounced psychoactive effect: they reduce excitability and eliminate seizures, and with increasing dose they immerse the patient in sleep.

To restore the water-salt homeostasis, sodium bicarbonate and reopolycchukin are used; swelling of the lungs and brain eliminate mannitol (osmotic diuretic). In addition, vitamins C, PP and group B are shown.

Other medications are used depending on the symptoms, but the therapeutic course is prescribed by the attending physician. , поскольку неумелое использование лекарств может навредить. You should not even try to get rid of delirium tremens on your own , as inept use of drugs can harm. Yes, and buy special drugs without a prescription will not work.

With delirium tremens, treatment is often carried out forcibly, at the request of the patient’s relatives. The result of medical intervention will be one of three possible outcomes:

  1. Full recovery.
  2. Recovery from a defect (for example, mental disorders).
  3. Death of the patient (10% of all cases).

The body of a chronic alcoholic is so weakened that the additional drug therapy can simply not be transferred. But leaving the patient in a state of madness is dangerous both for his life and for those around him.

In addition, the 3rd stage of delirium tremens can in itself lead to death, and it is better to try to help a person (even despite certain risks) than to quit in a difficult moment.


delirium-alcohol complications When alcoholic delirium violated the work of all organs. And this, in turn, is fraught with complications:

  • inflammation of the pancreas ;
  • pneumonia;
  • violation of the heart (angina, tachycardia, myocardial infarction, etc.);
  • liver dysfunction;
  • swelling of the brain;
  • renal failure.

And this is just a short list of possible consequences. In addition, even if, during delirium tremens, it is likely that chronic liver, kidney, etc. diseases can develop in a timely manner.


Blue Devils appears in chronic alcoholics after the end of the next binge. The most prominent sign of the disease are hallucinations, which sometimes lead to self-mutilation.

You can cope with the disorder in a medical way, but the treatment does not always save the patient and brings complete healing. Therefore, it will be better for each person to refrain from such a destructive alcohol abuse.


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