Alcohol withdrawal

Last reviewed: 25 Apr 2022
Last updated: 19 Mar 2019

Summary

Definition

History and exam

Key diagnostic factors

  • alcohol use
  • change in mental status
  • hallucinations
  • seizures
  • delusions
More key diagnostic factors

Other diagnostic factors

  • tremor
  • nausea and vomiting
  • hypertension
  • tachycardia
  • hyperthermia
Other diagnostic factors

Risk factors

  • history of alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) and delirium tremens
  • abrupt withdrawal of alcohol
More risk factors

Diagnostic investigations

1st investigations to order

  • BUN and serum creatinine
  • liver function tests
  • ethanol
  • electrolyte panel
  • CBC
  • CT of head
  • chest x-ray
More 1st investigations to order

Treatment algorithm

ACUTE

all patients

Contributors

Authors

Hong K. Kim, MD, MPH

Assistant Professor

Department of Emergency Medicine

University of Maryland School of Medicine

Baltimore

MD

Disclosures

HKK declares that he has no competing interests.

Nicholas J. Connors, MD

Associate Professor

Department of Emergency Medicine

Medical University of South Carolina

Charleston

SC

Disclosures

NJC declares that he has no competing interests.

Peer reviewers

Kinjal Sethuraman, MD, MPH

Associate Director

International Emergency Medicine

Long Island Jewish Hospital

New York

NY

Disclosures

KS declares that he has no competing interests.

Paul S. Haber, MD

Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Discipline of Medicine

The University of Sydney

Sydney

Australia

Disclosures

PSH is an author of a reference cited in this monograph.

  • Differentials

    • Sympathomimetic intoxication
    • Hepatic encephalopathy
    • Encephalitis
    More Differentials
  • Guidelines

    • Assessment and management of alcohol dependence and withdrawal in the acute hospital
    • Management of alcohol withdrawal
    More Guidelines
  • Calculators

    Alcohol Consumption Screening AUDIT Questionnaire

    More Calculators
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