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Spasms and drunks

Dunn Matthew Dr. (RJC) ACCIDENT & EMERGENCY - SwarkHosp-TR trauma-list@trauma.org
Mon, 17 Jun 2002 15:08:28 +0100

> Message: 3
> Date: Sun, 16 Jun 2002 21:46:09 +0300
> To: trauma-list@trauma.org
> From: Ira Hartman <ihartman1@bezeqint.net>
> Subject: Spasms and drunks
> Reply-To: trauma-list@trauma.org
> We had a case recently that presents a puzzle to us.
> 18 yr old obviously drunk, smell vomiting etc.
> What was puzzling was that his limbs went into spasms 
> periodically during 
> transportation.
> I tried to do some Internet research on spasms with 
> drunkenness but came up 
> with zilch.
> were the spasms alcohol related or was there something else going on?
> Ira Hartman
> Israel

One possible explanation was hyponatraemia/ water intoxication- with a water
excess of over 7- 10 l or a the Sodium below about 120- 125 mM/ l cramps,
spasms and seizures can occur. This sodium level has been reported due to
voluntary beer consumption in medical students. Of course if he was drinking
spirits or wine then you can ignore this suggestion. Drop your search on
alcohol and just look at the fluid he had.
Other (? less likely) possibilities include contaminants . Ethylene glycol
(found in Central European wines a few years back) and methanol can both
cause fits- although especially in the case of methanol usually after quite
an interval, and in both cases I'd expect the patient to be generally very

Matt Dunn

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