Tremors are one of the most recognized alcoholism symptoms and
typically occur during withdrawal from alcohol. The National Institutes of
Health report that alcoholic tremors usually occur within 72 hours of taking
your last drink, but they can occur up to ten days after you stop drinking. These
tremors may just involve shaky hands but often include full body tremors. Sometimes
referred to as delirium tremens, this condition is considered a medical
emergency because someone in this condition can experience life-threatening
complications like seizures, severe vomiting leading to dehydration, chest pain
and heart problems, and serious psychiatric problems such as hallucinations.
If you or someone you know begins to experience tremors you think are related to drinking, you should go to the nearest emergency room right away. Don’t try to drive yourself to the emergency room; if no one is available to drive you, call 911 and go by ambulance.
Treatment for these tremors usually involves hospitalization for at least a few days, until the danger has passed. Your vital signs, including your pulse, respirations, and blood pressure will be monitored closely. You’ll be watched closely, since serious complications can occur at any time.
Blood tests will be done to check for electrolyte imbalances, vitamin deficiencies,
and other problems. Your blood might also be tested to see how much alcohol is
in your system and if you have any other drugs in your system. You might be
given an electrocardiogram, a test that monitors your heartbeat to check for
cardiac problems. If any abnormalities are found, you may be kept on a heart
monitor for a while. Other tests will be ordered if necessary.
You will probably be given intravenous fluids to prevent or treat dehydration, possibly with some B vitamins in them to help with nutritional deficiencies common in people that drink too much (sometimes this IV treatment is referred to as a banana bag because the solution in the bag is yellow in color from the B vitamins in it). Intravenous fluids may help with nausea, too.
You may be given medication to help with tremors and to prevent seizures. You may be given medication to help with nausea and vomiting. If you’re hallucinating, you may be given antipsychotic medication to help with that, but those drugs are used with caution in people withdrawing from alcohol because they can increase the risk of seizures.
After the immediate danger has passed, you’ll need treatment to help you avoid drinking again in the future.
Tremors aren’t the only symptom you might experience during withdrawal from alcohol and some of the other symptoms can be pretty serious. Other alcoholism symptoms you might experience include:
Again, some of these symptoms can be life-threatening, so seek medical attention right way. If you have any questions about alcoholic tremors, please contact us.
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