If you have been drinking alcohol heavily and need or want to stop, it's important to understand the risks of delirium tremens, also known as DTs. It's a good idea to seek medical care to detox from alcohol. Not only are DTs dangerous, but you'll need several liver function lab tests. Here's what you need to know.
Alcohol's effects on your liver
When you drink alcohol, the alcohol gets absorbed into your blood almost immediately. About 90% of the alcohol you consume is broken down by the liver. This can damage the liver cells and turn some of them into fat. The liver forms scars when it's damaged, which is known as cirrhosis.
Cirrhosis can cause the liver function to be minimal or nonexistent. This could lead to death because the liver won't be able to make vital nutrients and clean the blood by detoxifying harmful substances from it. Since the liver has no nerve endings, you won't be able to feel any pain in your liver from the damage.
For this reason, you will need to go to a health care professional to have liver function tests done.
Alcohol withdrawal's effects on your body
If you've consumed alcohol heavily for a long time, your body may be reliant on the alcohol. When you stop suddenly or don't drink enough, your body will start going through withdrawal. Symptoms of withdrawal may include the following:
- feel extremely hot and can't seem to cool down
- uncontrollable shaking in the hands and feet
- rapid heartbeat that feels as if your heart will pound out of your chest
- feel anxious for no reason
- restless and unable to sleep
- nauseous and unable to eat
- sensitive to lights and sounds
- confused and agitated
- psychotic episodes and hallucinations
If you experience any of these symptoms after not having a drink, you are likely experiencing the severe withdrawal form of delirium tremens. DTs is considered a medical emergency and requires immediate hospitalization. Often, patients experiencing DTs are admitted into intensive care units. DTs are that dangerous.
Medical help to avoid withdrawal & DTs
Fortunately, there are different forms of treatments and medication for those who need medical help to detox from alcohol. It's important to get this help before you start experiencing withdrawal and symptoms of delirium tremens. Your physician will order a series of lab tests, including a liver function test, through a place like SmartCare Health and Diagnostics.
The physician will also ask for your alcohol consumption history. Be completely honest. Your physician will use the information to either admit you into the hospital to be put into a medically-induced coma (most severe), or give you medication to help reduce your amount of alcohol consumption to a more manageable level.
Some medication will make you physically ill if you consume alcohol while taking them so you won't want to drink any more. Other medication may make you not experience the good feelings associated with intoxication.The medication can be given orally or intravenously. Many of these types of medications require the constant monitoring of the liver with routine liver function tests. The reason for this is because they cannot be taken if the liver isn't functioning properly.
You'll also benefit from psychological help. Your physician will likely refer you to a therapist who can help you with the mindset of your addiction to alcohol. Be prepared to delve deep into the reasons why you turned to drinking an excessive amount of alcohol in the first place. Most often, there are other issues going on that need to be addressed before you can move forward in your life without feeling like you need alcohol to survive.