Alcohol withdrawal: Symptoms & Signs, Diagnoisis & Tests

Symptoms & Signs

Alcohol withdrawal may involve psychological and physical symptoms.

Mild-to-moderate psychological symptoms:

* Anxiety or nervousness
* Depression
* Difficulty thinking clearly
* Fatigue
* Irritability or easy excitability
* Jumpiness or shakiness
* Nightmares
* Rapid emotional changes

Mild-to-moderate physical symptoms:

* Clammy skin
* Enlarged (dilated) pupils
* Headache
* Insomnia (sleeping difficulty)
* Loss of appetite
* Nausea and vomiting
* Pallor
* Rapid heart rate
* Sweating
* Tremor of the hands or other body parts

Severe symptoms:

* Agitation
* Delirium tremens — a state of severe confusion and visual hallucinations
* Fever
* Seizures

Diagnosis & Tests

When evaluating you for alcohol withdrawal, your health care provider will check for:

* Abnormal eye movements
* Abnormal heart rhythms
* Dehydration
* Elevated temperature
* General body shaking
* Liver failure
* Rapid breathing
* Rapid heart rate
* Shaky hands

A toxicology screen may be performed, as well as other blood tests.

Alcohol withdrawal: Overview, Causes

Alcohol withdrawal: Symptoms & Signs, Diagnoisis & Tests

Alcohol withdrawal: Treatment

Review Date : 3/29/2010
Reviewed By : David B. Merrill, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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