What Is Delirium Tremens?: Types, Cause, and Treatment

What Is Delirium Tremens?

Delirium is a mental disorder in that the patient has problems thinking, paying attention, and concentration, unaware of time, place, person, disturbed speech, and hallucination. (in that misinterpretation in the absence of stimuli). A person can do physical activities but with some confusion. It is due to mental trauma, head injury, brain tumor, drug overdose or withdrawal, or any brain degenerative disease.


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Table of Contents

Causes of delirium

  • Brain dysfunction due  to high blood pressure, cerebral problem, internal bleeding into the brain
  • Infection such as encephalitis, meningitis, abnormal cell growth or cancerous growth in any lesions of the brain.
  • Any over drunkness of alcohol or substances or withdrawal effect of the sedatives or hypnotic drugs.
  • Trauma due to head injury that causes laceration into the brain.
  • Vitamin deficiency such as thiamine deficiency.
  • Endocrine and metabolic disorder such as diabetic coma, shock, hepatic failure 
  • Metals: heavy metals ( manganese, mercury, ) ,carbon monoxide, toxins .poisoning
  • Lack of oxygen in the brain.
  • Anemia

Predisposing factors that can influence delirium

  • Male gender
  • Sensory impairment
  • Advanced age
  • Dementia
  • History of alcohol abuse 

The precipitating factor that influences delirium

  • Any factors that affect neurotransmitter, neuroendocrine, can precipitate an episode of fever vulnerable brain. 
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Endocrine disorder
  • Infection
  • Malnutrition
  • Dehydration
  • Anemia
  • Increased carbon dioxide into the blood.

Must read: What To Expect With Frontotemporal Dementia? | How Do You Get Dementia?

Signs and symptoms of delirium

  •  Confused thinking
  •  The problem in paying and sustaining the attention
  •  Illusion(misinterpretation in the presence of stimuli)
  •  Hallucination(misconception in the presence of stimuli)
  •  Hyperactivity: restless, irritability, anger, wondering, laughing
  •  Hypo activity: lack of emotions, tiredness
  •  Aimless activity
  •  Loss of sleep
  •  Depression
  •  Fear
  •  Drowsiness
  •  Impairment in recent, remote, and immediate memory.

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Diagnostic evolution of delirium

To diagnose delirium tremens, your doctor will conduct a physical exam, look at your past medical history, and ask questions about your symptoms. 

Some other tests

  • Blood magnesium level
  • Electrocardiograph
  • Toxicology
  • Screen

Treatment of delirium

Delirium tremens is a medical emergency that requires hospitalization. Treatment is focused first on saving the individual’s life, preventing complications, and minimizing the symptoms.

The medications are used to treat Delirium tremens include Ativan and Librium. Medications may help relieve the anxiety and acute alcohol withdrawal.

These treatments may incorporate group therapy, support groups, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

For better treatment must read: Which Of The Following Is A Benefit of Group Therapy?

Fluid Nutrition

liquid and nutrition status should be maintained properly to keep the body hydrated and healthy.

For the patient suspected of having alcohol withdrawal, therapy should include multivitamins, especially thiamine.

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