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Alcohol Withdrawal Syndromes

  • Paul Ellis Marik
Chapter

Abstract

Approximately 11–15 million people report heavy alcohol use or alcohol abuse and dependence in the United States; not surprisingly, alcohol-related medical problems are commonly encountered in critically ill and injured patients. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) consists of symptoms and signs arising in alcohol-dependent individuals, typically within 24–48 h of consumption of their last drink. Delirium tremens (DTs), a severe and potentially fatal form of AWS, typically occurs 48–96 h after withdrawal of alcohol. AWS is usually mild and self–limiting; however, approximately 5% of patients develop DTs with a mortality approaching 15%. Older age, underlying disease, and comorbid liver disease are associated with an increased mortality risk. Although AWS occurs intentionally in those seeking abstinence, it may arise unexpectedly in an alcohol-dependent patients after admission to hospital. This disorder usually manifests itself on hospital days 3–5 and usually lasts less than 1 week although prolonged DTs has been described.

Keywords

Alcohol Withdrawal Alcoholic Hepatitis Alcoholic Patient Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome Delirium Tremens 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care MedicineEastern Virginia Medical SchoolNorfolkUSA

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