Alcohol withdrawals? For how long? Or something else?

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Hi folks.  Time for a new thread, I think.

To recap, very briefly: previously a social drinker for 25 years, rarely drunk, but did enjoy a glass of wine with a meal, a few pints with friends / workmates on a regular basis, and occasional night-cap.

Last August, after a year of depression, insomnia and anxiety, I started drinking more alone at home, with two quite seriious but short binges in October.  Then, very little alcohol from November to March, when I started again, with occasional binges.  But my drinking really got out of hand in June and July, when I was probably averaging about 70 (UK) units of alcohol per week and then the last week in July had around 150 units (three 1.5 litre bottles of vodka).

Since then, I have only had a few glasses of wine.

I was scared by liver function tests done on 4 August.  These showed Gamma GT of 121 and AST of 96.  I was told the other results were within normal range.  These figures scared me, though my regular GP, with whom I have a very good relationship and faith in, did not seem overly concerned but just said to me "no more binges, Gavin".

The LFTs were repeated on 17 August.  The Gamma GT had reduced to 72 and the AST was now normal at 25.  One of the GPs in the surgery (my regular GP is on holiday) also gave me a physical examination and said that, along with the lower LFT numbers, my liver was not enlarged or 'hard', and, basically, I was fine.

However, the reason I went back to see a GP is/was because I have been feeling physically unwell in a very vague sort of way:

- Excessive sweating, coming and going, and intolerance to heat;

- Clammy skin;

- Fuzzy head / brain fog / some disorientation;

- Burning pain in joints, inner thighs and genitals ;

- Strange senations in hands and feet;

- Loss of appetite (am forcing myself to eat at meal times);

- Indigestion and mild nausea;

- Occasional diarrhoea;

- Insomnia (a problem for 2 years, but even worse now);

- Fatigue;

- General unwell feeling.

I spoke to another GP yesterday and he said these symptoms are due to alcohol withdrawals.  He talked me through other blood tests, done in mid-June, and he said these were all normal.

Are these symptoms typical of alcohol withdrawals?

If so, how long are they likely to last?

I know that, probably unwisely, I have been Googling extensively and looking in other forums, and was even told that, with these symptoms, I should get tested for an inherited condition called Haemochromatosis.  Should I?

I'm sure I'm coming across as obsessive but, if these symptoms went away, I would be much, much less concerned ....

 

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27 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi l think u need to change your medication for anxiety as it seems its not working, as you over worry l really feel sorry for u because u are a worried ,how old are u , as for the liver it seems ok
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    • Posted

      I'm 46 and I never used to be like this ....  Was told many, many years ago that, due to family history, I should take blood pressure and cholesterol medication.  Was also put on Citalopram in 2007 as I had agoraphobia due to suffering from vertigo after an inner-ear infection.

      I just accepted it and got on with life, but things are different for me now, and not in a good way

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  • Posted

    I presume it wasn't your gp who said you should be tested for heritory haemochromatosis? It's basically a gene which is inherited, giving you a higher than normal chance of developing haemochromatosis. This causes high levels of iron in your blood and my understanding (not 100% certain) is that your liver can't naturally deal with extra toxins. It is common in some alcoholics, and those who tend to binge drink, or drink a lot more than the recommended weekly allowance.

    seeing as your LFTs have come down (well done) and you had a physical exam by your gp, and other tests were normal, in my view you shouldn't worry.

    please don't take my understanding of haemochromatosis as being correct. Paul Turner would be the best person to ask.

    I too, at one time used to surf numerous websites and would imagine I'd got every illness known to man! I don't bother now and feel much better. Too much information hey!!

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  • Posted

    Hi. I've been taking citalopram for many years (I'm an extremely anxious person ) It does work - not with Alcohol though- Diazapan is better if you can get hold of it from your G P ?? I rely on Kalms they are natural herbs and do the trick drunk or sober.Ihave problem at moment - whether or not to endure a fourth day with one Nalmefene . I did'nt mind not doing much the first couple of days but today I still feel disorientated , sick and dizzy. Must admit I have cut down on the wine so that is a positive . But everything else went out of the window as well !!!!!! Food is tasteless ok if you want to lose Wieght- I don't,sleep does not exist !!! I am so tired and cross with my husband. He cannot understand this method at all-he thinks I should just stop drinking - unthinkable . I would rather be dead.Don't feel like doing anything- so behind with chores.Why have I gone off smoking ?? I didn't sign up for that . Does anyone out there know when these side effe
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    • Posted

      Sorry must have touched something !? Nearly finished anyway. Does anyone out there know when these effects go away?tempted to take pill wait one hour and have glass of wine to look at. That's all I'll get out of it SAD Sue
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    • Posted

      I've  not drunk for ten days and feel better. Also been taking vit b tablets. I would love the opportunity to try this magic pill which lets you still drink. Gp never heard of it and wouldn't listen. Got in touch with ADS and I ended up telling my key worker all about it and was told they don't recommend it. Back to see different Dr who had read up about, but no way would the practice prescribe some weird American trial.

      was supposed to be going to a party tonight, but I've just told my husband I'm not going. Don't want to be left on my own drinking lime and soda till 2/3am. He's not a happy bunny 

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  • Posted

    I am just back from a 7 mile walk, during which I quickly started profusely sweating pretty-much all over my body.

    By the time I got home, my t-shirt, head and upper body were drenched.

    This just doesn't seem natural.

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    • Posted

      If u run u sweat a lot that's normal, l used to play Rugby and u always sweat when u run even in winter, that's normal.
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  • Posted

    gav my 31 year old son still lives at home. He jogs each morning and is soaking wet  with sweat. He power walks for an hour each night and his shirt is always wet. As richardt says it is normal. Try and do something which could distract you and take your mind away from worrying about your health.
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  • Posted

    That was what the walk was for!

    The sweat eased for a a while, but I broke-out in a profuse sweat again when I started eating dinner, and am still sweating profusely an hour later.

    As I said, this is simply not natural.

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    • Posted

      You have to stop worrying or get some medication for anxiety. Sweating is a normal reaction to alcohol withdrawal as are the other symptoms. Think positive, if you were still drinking you would be doing horrendous damage to your body. You're doing really well and your body is recovering. Be happy and try to stop thinking about these symptoms you have. They will disappear with time smile
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    • Posted

      I really appreciate your advice and concern, Paper fairy, but the symptoms are actually getting worse, not better.  My hair is soaking and I even have soaking sweat in places like the creases in my arms and behind my knees - this surely isn't natural?

      I'm trying to do things to take my mind off it, but when soaking for no reason and with very painful/burning joints and other odd and unpleasant symptoms, it's practically impossible to ignore.

      I'm already taking some meds that are suppposed to help with anxiety - especially Pregablin and Trazodone.

      This really is making me miserable - it's not living, it's an existence.

       

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    • Posted

      The sweating does sound horrendous tho I have the terrible aching joints even after a few weeks sober. I hope Paul can advice. Maybe you have a virus/flu starting. Hope you feel better soon
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    • Posted

      Thank you, Paper fairy.

      I did the 7 mile walk with little difficulty - my joints were no sorer during or after the walk than they were before it, and I don't have a temperature.

      I was sweating more when I was drinking and the drink eased them, or at least stopped me remembering them, but I wasn't sweating that much for the first week or so after stopping the heavy drinking.

      It's really in the past 7-10 days that all these peculiar and unpleasant symptoms have set-in and been worsening, and they seem to be getting worse every day.

      It's interesting that you are suffering with terrible aching joints, too.  I's never have associated those with alcohol withdrawal.

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    • Posted

      I've had all blood tests done , all normal as I didn't think it was normal but Dr said its because takes months for body to become normal again after years of alcohol abuse and stress
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    • Posted

      Without wanting to pry too much, Paper fairy, for how long were you drinking excessively?  Are your liver function tests normal?

      I only started last August, not that heavily but then two serious (but short) binges in October, then very little alcohol from November to February, then started again in March, on-and-off, but then very heavily in June/early July (about 70 units per week) then that terrible last week in July when I had at least 150 units.

      I know "dripping with sweat" is an expression but, over the past week, for me it has become an ever worse reality.  I even kept apologising to the doctor on Monday past who was examining me about how wet my skin was - at least she knew I wasn't making it up.

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    • Posted

      I don't mean to be rude, but are you by any chance overweight? My OH used to suffer dreadfully with excessive sweating, he would break out in sweats even when watching tv. He lost 6 stone and the sweating stopped.

      there is a condition called hyperhidrosis, which makes you sweat excessively. There are various treatments, the main one is by taking anticholinergics which have good results.

      however I very much doubt you've got that, seeing as your doctor recently examIned you. I see you take trazadone like me, and one of the side effects of it is excess sweating. It's an antidepressant drug used for anxiety and supposedly aids sleep. I know it must be hard coping with this problem. By the way, when did you last have a drink?

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    • Posted

      Hi vickylou,

      I am 6'1", broad-shouldered and just under 15 stone - a bit heavier than I was through most of my 20s, 30s and early 40s, but not much overweight.

      I had a glass of wine a few days ago, and another a few days before that (with food).  Absolutely nothing like the scale of drinking in June and especially (late) July.

      I am not exaggerating about the sweat while walking (normal walking, not fast or power-walking) this afternoon: the sweat was dripping off me and every part of my body was wet, my t-shirt was soaked.

      I know anti-depressants can cause sweating, but I have been on them for over two years and, while I have had mild sweating before, nothing like on this scale.

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    • Posted

      Hi vickylou,

      No, if I'm overweight, it would be only a few pounds.

      I had a glass of wine a few days ago, and another a few days before that.  But that's a tiny, tiny fraction of what I was drinking in June and especially (late) July.

      I know anti-depressants can cause sweating, but I have been on them for two years and have never experienced anything like this.  (I was also on a different anti-depressant, Citalopram, from about 2007-12, for mild anxiety, but just took a 20mg tablet every morning and don't recall any sweating being a problem).

      What's more, the sweating(and other unpleasant symptoms) seem to be getting worse, not better.  That's what has me so frustrated and miserable, and thinking either I've damaged my liver (and maybe other organs) or that it's something else ....

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    • Posted

      Well it's obviously not your weight. It doesn't sound like withdrawal from alcohol. Anxiety is another possible reason. When I used to have panic attacks, I would be all wet and clammy, which leaves hyperhidrosis. Maybe you should go back to your Dr and try and sort out some medication to help with your anxiety. I've found that once you've been treated for alcohol issues, there's a tendency for some drs to 'not think outside the box' and dismiss other health issues as being alcohol related. Hope things start to improve for you
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    • Posted

      Thanks, vickylou.

      I don't doubt that anxiety (and depression and insomnia) are not helping.

      That said, I was quite relaxed when I was with one of our surgery's GPs on Monday.  She took my blood pressure and pulse and listened to my heart and they were all fine, yet my skin was wet pretty-much all over!

      It's got to the stage where I dread going to bed, because I sweat and have great difficulty sleeping, then dread the morning because I have another day of this, and each day seems to get just a bit worse than the day before.  I can't go on like this for much longer.

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    • Posted

      Hi Gav. My liver tests were normal. I was a functioning alcoholic for many years. In 2007 I started drinking in the day due to major stress at work and unhappy marriage. Then on to 24/7 drinking (white wine mostly). Got so bad I went to rehab 2012. Been binge drinker on and off since. Pattern is I go weeks sober, then relapse for a few days( just isolate myself). This year I went 4 months sober (longest ever) mainly been sober this year, had 3 relapses. 4 weeks sober at mo. I take naltrexone now 2 hrs before I drink, when I binge. Seems to help. Anyway will keep you posted. Feel horrendous at mo. Like a hangover without the nausea. Feel like this every day..
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    • Posted

      Hi Paper fairy,

      Thanks for your reply, sorry to hear of your struggles, but good that your liver tests are normal.  You must be very resilient!

      I'm not married, but was in a long relationship which broke-down in 2010 due to distance and other issues.  I didn't replace it but, at the time, continued to busy myself at work, spent plenty of time with my family and leisure time either pottering-about or travelling.  Then, I took voluntary redundancy in late-2012, initially enjoying the freedom to do other things.

      But, a serious health scare (which was a false alarm) in summer 2013 really shook my confidence, I missed the relationship (my ex-partner met someone else about the same time), and insomnia and anxiety and then depression set-in, and I couldn't have held-down a new job from then, and have not worked since.

      For the first year after that, I probably drank less than I had been doing socially for 25 years (though that was rarely excessive) but, last August, something changed and I started to drink more heavily and the rest is history.

      I have myself thinking all-sorts about liver damage, damage to other organs, other unrelated conditions that seem to match my symptoms, and I am also wary about getting a name as someone who is never out of my doctors' surgery!

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