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Delirium tremens

  • Definition

    Delirium tremens is a severe form of alcohol withdrawal that involves sudden and severe mental or neurological changes.

    Alternative Names

    DT's; Alcohol withdrawal - delirium tremens

    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Delirium tremens can occur after a period of heavy alcohol drinking, especially when the person does not eat enough food.

    It may also be triggered by head injury, infection, or illness in people with a history of heavy alcohol use.

    It is most common in people who have a history of alcohol withdrawal. It is especially common in those who drink the equivalent of 4 - 5 pints of wine or 7 - 8 pints of beer (or 1 pint of "hard" alcohol) every day for several months. Delirium tremens also commonly affects those who have had a history of habitual alcohol use or alcoholism for more than 10 years.