Vitalogy | Issue 18

Vitalogy | Issue 18

Delirium Tremens

I hear some young adults returning to their studies at Otago University have been indulging not in the pleasure of learning from their betters, but instead in the despicable vice of inebriation. The so-called “Re-O Week” is a magnet for degenerates which respectable young men and women should avoid for fear of Delirium Tremens, the shameful outcome of taking drink. 

The suspension of the habitual use of alcoholic or fermented liquors is the cause of this disease, and is more liable to occur with steady drinkers, than those who only take an occasional “spree.”

Symptoms include trembling of the tongue, when the patient attempts to protrude it, and twitching of the cords in his wrists, are among the first. He appears frightened, and begins to see the most frightful and disgusting objects; such as serpents, rats, toads and other loathsome reptiles and vermin, crawling over his head, his person, or about the room, and he hunts them among his bedclothes. 

He is always afraid. Robbers, officers, or creditors, are after him. He imagines that he hears them conspiring against him. He sees knives and firearms pointed at him, strives to escape from his tormentors, and is liable to injure himself or others, in striving to protect himself or escape. 

If your studymate falls foul of Delirium Tremens, take swift action and put him to bed in a locked room. For debility, give no stimulants, but only beef-tea, chicken-broth, mutton and beef. Give a Turkish hot air bath, lasting half an hour. 

The redness of the face, and the pulsation of the arteries and heart, indicate determination of blood to the head; therefore, the first course to pursue, is to equalise the circulation by bathing the feet and legs in warm lye-water, and then apply mustard-plasters to the bottoms of the feet, and nape of the neck, and give the most nutritious food that can be obtained. 

Procure sleep in the patient by administering large doses of chloral. When sleep is induced, if prolonged, the patient may be aroused at the end of eight or ten hours, and made to take some nourishment, before chloral is again administered. 


This information was taken from Vitalogy, a real medical book published in 1923. This column is for entertainment only and should not be taken as advice by anyone, ever.

This article first appeared in Issue 18, 2016.
Posted 1:48pm Sunday 7th August 2016 by Prof's Wood & Ruddock.