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Delirium tremens

Delirium tremens (DT) (often colloquially called the DTs) is a condition associated with severe alcohol withdrawal. As the name suggests, symptoms include tremors and delusions, as well as rare seizures.

It is caused because of the effect alcohol has on the benzodiazepine-GABAa-chloride receptor complex. This is a receptor for the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA. Constant alcohol consumption downregulates these receptors, and when alcohol is no longer consumed, there are not as many receptors for GABA to bind.

As GABA normally inhibits an action potential formation, fewer receptors mean that sympathetic activation is unopposed.

Although more men than women are alcoholics, 5% of alcoholic withdrawal cases lead to DT in box sexes.

Treatment is with benzodiazepines, such as Valium (diazempam), which enhance binding of GABA to the receptors.

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