Alcohol Withdrawal Fever

What Is Alcohol Withdrawal Fever? Fever is a relatively common symptom of alcohol withdrawal. In most cases, fevers are low-grade (do not exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit) and can be attributed to some sort of indirect infection or illness.  Instances, where fever has no determinable cause and persists for an extended period of time, can indicate that the alcohol […]

What Is Alcohol Withdrawal Fever?

Fever is a relatively common symptom of alcohol withdrawal. In most cases, fevers are low-grade (do not exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit) and can be attributed to some sort of indirect infection or illness.  Instances, where fever has no determinable cause and persists for an extended period of time, can indicate that the alcohol detox process has taken a nasty turn. This symptom is associated with the most severe type of withdrawal commonly known as delirium tremens (DTs). [1]

How Is Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome Diagnosed?

Alcohol withdrawal refers to symptoms that may occur when a person who has been drinking too much alcohol on a regular basis suddenly stops drinking alcohol. Alcohol withdrawal fever usually occurs within 8 hours after the last drink but can occur days later. Symptoms usually peak by 24 to 72 hours but may go on for weeks.

Common symptoms [2] include:

  • Anxiety or nervousness
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Jumpiness or shakiness
  • Mood swings
  • Nightmares
  • Not thinking clearly

Other symptoms may include:

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

A severe form of alcohol withdrawal called delirium tremens can cause:

  • Agitation
  • Fever
  • Seeing or feeling things that aren’t there (hallucinations)
  • Seizures
  • Severe confusion

Exams and Tests

Your health care provider will perform a physical exam. This may reveal:

  • Abnormal eye movements
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Dehydration (not enough fluids in the body)
  • Fever
  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Shaky hands
Alcohol Withdrawal Fever
Heavy drinkers who suddenly decrease or stop drinking altogether may experience alcohol withdrawal fever.

Can Alcohol Withdrawal Cause Fever?

Can drinking alcohol make you hotter? Most people will say that it does – but we don’t mean in the sense of making people seem more attractive. Flushing skin, hot flashes, and increased sweating are common side effects of alcohol consumption (i.e.: alcohol blankets) that pass once the alcohol has exited your system. The temperature-raising side effect associated with alcohol withdrawal, however, is not as harmless. Alcohol withdrawal fever is one of the less commonly addressed symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Knowing what it is could potentially save your life.   

Is Fever During Alcohol Withdrawal Dangerous?

Fever can be beneficial to a detoxing alcoholic by indicating a related illness such as an alcoholic kidney infection caused by dehydration. However, if an alcohol withdrawal-related fever persists for more than 72 hours it is often considered a medical emergency. The danger does not actually lie with the fever itself, which is more of an accessory symptom, but because of the other symptoms that accompany delirium tremens such as:

  • Cardiovascular collapse
  • Hallucinations (audial and visual)
  • High blood pressure
  • Extreme confusion and agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Seizure
  • Coma

Treatment for delirium tremens can take close to two weeks of hospitalization. It typically involves IV fluids to prevent dehydration and medication to treat seizures or other DT symptoms.

Fever & Alcohol Withdrawal – What To Do Next?

Alcohol withdrawal is a serious condition that may rapidly become life-threatening. Call your provider or go to the emergency room if you think you might be in alcohol withdrawal, especially if you were using alcohol often and recently stopped. Call for an appointment with your provider if symptoms persist after treatment.

Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if seizures, fever, severe confusion, hallucinations, or irregular heartbeats occur. If you go to the hospital for another reason, tell the providers if you’ve been drinking heavily so they can monitor you for symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

The Cause Of Alcohol Withdrawal Fever

As is the case with most nasty withdrawal effects, they are usually brought on by quitting a substance cold turkey. Alcohol withdrawal fever only occurs when the body has developed physical dependence, however. When this happens, the neurochemistry of the brain has been permanently disrupted due to the brain not having functioned normally for quite some time.

Alcohol Withdrawal Fever
Several fatal medical complications have been associated with alcohol withdrawal.

It is estimated that about 50% of alcoholics experience withdrawal symptoms when they eventually stop drinking. The effects, albeit unpleasant, are often relatively mild. These symptoms include headache, high blood pressure, nausea, and vomiting. Long-term heavy drinkers, however, have the highest risk of developing delirium tremens, which could land them in the emergency room. The likelihood of this occurring is low, only 5% of alcohol withdrawal ends up being this severe. [3]

In the case of alcohol withdrawal fever, it is not serving fever’s usual purpose of heating the body to kill bacteria. Instead, it is a result of a dramatic shift in the brain and nervous system activity. Excessive drinking suppresses neurotransmitters and forces them to work in overdrive to continue functioning. When you suddenly cause stop drinking alcohol, your neurotransmitters can take a while to catch up, slow down, and return to normal. This in-between period where your body is working extra hard to overcome a substance that isn’t there is what causes withdrawal and, in particularly bad cases, alcohol withdrawal fever.

How Is Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome Treated?

There are an estimated 17 million adults and adolescents with alcohol use disorder (AUD).  Sadly, the National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that only 1 of every ten seek or receive any treatment.  Part of the reason for such dismal numbers is that most individuals aren’t aware that they have a drinking problem.  [4]

Alcoholism is a severe and debilitating disease that will progressively get worse the longer it goes untreated.  Exhibiting even one of these behaviors can be indicative of potentially dangerous alcohol addiction.  An alcohol rehabilitation center can help mitigate the unpleasant alcohol withdrawal fever effects and help with behavioral therapy for this chronic relapsing brain disorder.

Best Alcohol Rehab in Texas

Drug and alcohol rehab centers serve several functions related to addiction treatment and recovery.  Recovery starts with getting sober and is a part of your life indefinitely.  And then, after you stop drinking or using, you still have a lifelong challenge of staying clean and sober. So, you will need a solid commitment.  Providing therapy, education, and support for recovery after treatment is just as crucial for a treatment center, if not more so than helping you get sober.  The major of programming at any rehab center is focusing on building skills and habits that encourage long-term sobriety.

Multiple approaches can be taken to treat alcohol detox.  This can vary from a medicalized approach to a more alternative approach.  With a holistic view of addiction treatment, our detox facilities provide various therapies from one end to the other.  This allows us to provide each client with the best treatment possible.

Medically Assisted Detox

There are medication-based options ready for clients who face severe detox symptoms or are simply open to a more medicalized approach to managing their comfort.  Benzodiazepines and sedatives are examples of 2 types of medications sometimes applicable to help relax the brain and body when at the peak of detox.  In addition, naltrexone is one of a few medications that can help restrain the cravings accompanied by alcohol detox.

Additionally, prescription medications are not the only means of helpful medical interventions during detox. For instance, heavy sweating, diarrhea, and vomiting can lead to severe dehydration and further complications.  Also, the use of an IV drip can quickly resolve this issue and help keep fluid levels up. Additionally, detox facilities typically provide nutritional supplements because they carry numerous benefits for a healing body.

Alcohol Withdrawal Fever
Alcoholics can experience alcohol withdrawal fever as soon as six hours after their last drink.

Alternative Therapies

Yoga, Massage, and Acupuncture are a few of the alternative therapies at We Level Up TX.  These are evidence-based methods that have been shown to improve detox faster and provide much-needed comfort for individuals in withdrawal.  Not only do these therapies help with alcohol detox, but they also support overall health and wellbeing.  Many clients take these practices with them into their everyday life because they promote preserving sobriety.

As any withdrawal symptoms subside and a patient’s detox stay ends, the last detox stage is aftercare.  Again, an individualized treatment plan is developed to help give support, education, and therapy for relapse prevention.

Some of the immediate symptoms one can expect to experience during detox might be anxiety, insomnia, nausea, agitation;  muscle aches and pains, and heavy perspiration, among others.  In fact, these symptoms can range but require staff and regime for comfort.

How We Can Help? Searched for “Texas inpatient consultants or drug and alcohol treatment centers in Houston TX?” or are you seeking a national inpatient rehab destination?

Alcohol withdrawal fever can be dangerous, mainly if it is done without the help of a professional.  Delirium tremens and other effects of alcohol withdrawal symptoms that may afflict the detoxing patient at home are hazardous and may even be fatal. Delirium tremens usually start two to five days after the last drink. Shaking, confusion, high blood pressure, fever, and hallucinations are some symptoms. Therefore, it is advisable to detox in a rehab center to access qualified professionals who can manage alcohol detox and withdrawal complexities.

If you or someone you love is seeking a safe, secure, and compassionate resource for alcohol withdrawal symptoms treatment, We Level Up TX is here to guide you in giving up alcohol. Call us and speak with an addiction counselor today about our levels of care.