[Alcohol withdrawal and its major complications]

Klaus Junghanns, Tilman Wetterling
Fortschritte der Neurologie-Psychiatrie 2017, 85 (3): 163-177
Delirium tremens is one of the most common complications of alcohol withdrawal. It is potentially lethal and therefore should be detected as early as possible and be monitored and treated intensively. The assessment of risk factors with the Luebeck Alcohol-Withdrawal Risk Scale short form (LARS-11) can help to predict the risk of severe withdrawal adequately. As delirium cannot be differentiated from Wernicke-Encephalopathy with sufficient certainty high parenteral doses of Vitamin B1 and Magnesium orally should be given in case of any severe withdrawal symptoms. According to guidelines delirium tremens should be treated with benzodiazepines besides adequate electrolyte and fluid substitution. Haloperidol is often additionally given to better control hallucinations. Delirium tremens usually subsides within 10 days of treatment.The article gives an overview of alcohol withdrawal with its different facets, its differential diagnoses, and the treatment options.

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