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People Who Died from Delirium Tremens

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  • LBeebe, Source:
    Colonel (USA), Robert Wickliffe Cooper (1831 - 1867)
    Civil War Union Army Officer. Attended Dickenson College, and entered upon his Civil War service in the 20th Kentucky (US) Volunteer Infantry, and was soon commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant serving in staf...
  • Private (1882 - 1920)
  • Peder Pedersen Bang (1798 - 1842)
    Hjørring, Horns, Frederikshavn Købstad, Frederikshavn Købstad, Fiskerklyngen, 19, FT-1834, C0817 Peder Bang 36 Gift Fisker Anne Thomasdatter 46 Gift Hans Kone Thomas Entesen Pedersen 11 Ugift Deres Søn...
  • Josiah Lamborn (1809 - 1847)
    Lamborn (January 31, 1809 – March 31, 1847) was the Attorney General of Illinois from 1840 to 1843 and was the chief prosecuting attorney in the trial of five defendants accused of murdering Latter Day...
  • William Thomas Ward (b. - 1860)

Nicknames include "the horrors", "the shakes", "the bottleache", "quart mania", "ork orks", "gallon distemper", "the zoots", "barrel fever", "the 750 itch", "pint paralysis", seeing pink elephants. Another nickname is "the Brooklyn Boys" found in Eugene O'Neill's one-act play Hughie set In 1920's Times Square.

Delirium tremens (DTs) is a rapid onset of confusion usually caused by withdrawal from alcohol. When it occurs, it is often three days into the withdrawal symptoms and lasts for two to three days. People may also see or hear things other people do not. Physical effects may include shaking, shivering, irregular heart rate, and sweating. Occasionally, a very high body temperature or seizures may result in death. Alcohol is one of the most dangerous drugs to experience withdrawal from.

Here are 7 Facts About Delirium Tremens (DT):

  • 1. Delirium tremens can be fatal
    • Even in this modern medical age, the death rate as a result of DTs is estimated to be between 5 to 15 percent. Before the introduction of drugs like benzodiazepines, which are used to treat patients going through severe withdrawal, the mortality rate hovered around 35 percent.
  • 2.The condition is most common in heavy drinkers
    • The National Institute of Health reports that people who drink 7 to 8 pints of beer, 1 pint of liquor or 4 to 5 pints of wine a day for several months at a time, and abruptly stop drinking, are at risk for severe alcohol withdrawal.
  • 3. Long-term alcoholics are in danger of experiencing delirium tremens
    • Because of the damaging effects of alcohol on the body, those who suffer from a lengthy history of alcoholism, ten years or more, are susceptible to this condition. They must be monitored by physicians while detoxing from alcohol.
  • 4. The symptoms don’t always appear suddenly
    • While the intense symptoms of DTs can appear quickly, generally they develop 2-3 days after a person’s last drink. In some cases, though, a longer period of 7-10 days passes without symptoms. The fourth and fifth days of detox are usually the most extreme.
  • 5. Hallucinations and seizures can result from the delirium tremens
    • People who have experienced alcohol withdrawal more than once are more likely to have seizures between 12 and 48 hours after the onset of DTs. Another common symptom is formication, the feeling of or illusion that tiny insects are crawling on or just under the skin.
  • 6. Delirium tremens can bring about extreme anxiety
    • Along with the physical side effects of severe alcohol withdrawal, such as uncontrollable tremors and fever, many patients are paranoid, confused and think they are going to die.
  • 7. Illness, injury or infection can cause delirium tremens in heavy drinkers
    • Since DTs are brought about in heavy drinkers after an abrupt stop in their alcohol consumption, any illness, injury or infection that either hospitalizes, or otherwise incapacitates them, they are at risk of developing symptoms.

Delirium tremens (DTs) is the most severe form of ethanol withdrawal manifested by altered mental status (global confusion) and sympathetic overdrive (autonomic hyperactivity), which can progress to cardiovascular collapse. DTs is a medical emergency with a high mortality rate, making early recognition and treatment essential.

Delirium tremens may also be caused 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 4 to 5 pints (1.8 to 2.3 liters) of wine, 7 to 8 pints (3.5 to 4 liters) of beer, or 1 pint (1/2 liter) of "hard" alcohol every day for several months. Delirium tremens also commonly affects people who have used alcohol for more than 10 years.

Mortality without treatment is between 15% and 40%.[7] Currently death occurs in about 1% to 4% of cases.

  • Alcohol withdrawal can cause death, and when this happens it is almost always a result of delirium tremens. So what makes this terrible withdrawal symptom occur? Research suggests that in people who have a history of heavy and prolonged alcohol use, the brain gets accustomed to the constant presence of alcohol. The normal activity amongst the brain cells no longer gets ‘toned down’ or more relaxed as it does in occasional or light drinkers. It appears as though a heavy drinkers’ brain reduces the number of locations in brain cells where the natural inhibitory chemical GABA (gamma-amino-butyric acid) can act in to slow things down. When an alcoholic stops consuming alcohol, the GABA chemicals have fewer locations to go to within the brain, as a result, the brain cells become un-managble and overactive; the symptoms of delirium tremens occur.

Possible Complications can include:

  • Injury from falls during seizures
  • Injury to self or others caused by mental state (confusion/delirium)
  • Irregular heartbeat, may be life threatening
  • Seizures

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