Thomas Sutton (1767–1835), a physician in Kent, England, was the first to publish a description of delirium tremens (the "DTs") and to connect the illness to an over indulgence in alcohol.
A physician, medical practitioner, medical doctor, or simply doctor, is a professional who practises medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintaining, or restoring health through the study, diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of disease, injury, and other physical and mental impairments. Physicians may focus their practice on certain disease categories, types of patients, and methods of treatment—known as specialities—or they may assume responsibility for the provision of continuing and comprehensive medical care to individuals, families, and communities—known as general practice. Medical practice properly requires both a detailed knowledge of the academic disciplines, such as anatomy and physiology, underlying diseases and their treatment—the science of medicine—and also a decent competence in its applied practice—the art or craft of medicine.
Delirium tremens (DTs) is a rapid onset of confusion usually caused by withdrawal from alcohol. When it occurs, it is often three days into the withdrawal symptoms and lasts for two to three days. Physical effects may include shaking, shivering, irregular heart rate, and sweating. People may also see or hear things other people do not. Occasionally, a very high body temperature or seizures may result in death. Alcohol is one of the most dangerous drugs from which to withdraw.
Alcohol, sometimes referred to by the chemical name ethanol, is a drug that is the active ingredient in drinks such as beer, wine, and distilled spirits. It is one of the oldest and most common recreational substances, causing the characteristic effects of alcohol intoxication ("drunkenness"). Among other effects, alcohol produces a mood lift and euphoria, decreased anxiety, increased sociability, sedation, impairment of cognitive, memory, motor, and sensory function, and generalized depression of central nervous system function. Ethanol is only one of several types of alcohol, but it is the only type of alcohol that is found in alcoholic beverages or commonly used for recreational purposes; other alcohols such as methanol and isopropyl alcohol are toxic.
Sutton was born in Staffordshire, England about 1767. He studied medicine in London, England, Edinburgh, Scotland, and Leiden, The Netherlands, which granted him an M.D. in 1787. He became a Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians in 1790. He served in the Army and then settled in Greenwich, England to become a consultant at the Kent Dispensary and to practice medicine.
Medicine is the science and practice of establishing the diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. Medicine encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness. Contemporary medicine applies biomedical sciences, biomedical research, genetics, and medical technology to diagnose, treat, and prevent injury and disease, typically through pharmaceuticals or surgery, but also through therapies as diverse as psychotherapy, external splints and traction, medical devices, biologics, and ionizing radiation, amongst others.
London is the capital and largest city of England and the United Kingdom, with the largest municipal population in the European Union. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.
Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and one of its 32 council areas. Historically part of the county of Midlothian, it is located in Lothian on the Firth of Forth's southern shore.
In 1813, Sutton published his book, Tracts on Delirium Tremens, on Peritonitis, and on Some other Internal Inflammatory Affections, and on the Gout. The chapter on delirium tremens contains sixteen case-reports with detailed description of the symptoms and the differential diagnosis from “phrenitis” (another term for delirium) due to inflammation of the brain and from mania. He described the unusual case of a woman not known to be inebriated but he discovered that she frequently imbibed large quantities of Tincture of Lavender, which has an alcohol base. Sutton’s treatment for delirium tremens discarded the use of bleeding, an accepted medical method unless the patient was plethoric. Instead, he used opium in sufficient dosage to induce sleep from which the patient awoke improved. He suggested purgation if needed noting that opium may cause a confined bowel state and that blistering appeared to be of no use.
A brain is an organ that serves as the center of the nervous system in all vertebrate and most invertebrate animals. It is located in the head, usually close to the sensory organs for senses such as vision. It is the most complex organ in a vertebrate's body. In a human, the cerebral cortex contains approximately 14–16 billion neurons, and the estimated number of neurons in the cerebellum is 55–70 billion. Each neuron is connected by synapses to several thousand other neurons. These neurons communicate with one another by means of long protoplasmic fibers called axons, which carry trains of signal pulses called action potentials to distant parts of the brain or body targeting specific recipient cells.
Mania, also known as manic syndrome, is a state of abnormally elevated arousal, affect, and energy level, or "a state of heightened overall activation with enhanced affective expression together with lability of affect." Although mania is often conceived as a "mirror image" to depression, the heightened mood can be either euphoric or irritable; indeed, as the mania intensifies, irritability can be more pronounced and result in violence, or anxiety.
A tincture is typically an extract of plant or animal material dissolved in ethanol. Solvent concentrations of 25–60% are common, but may run as high as 90%. In chemistry, a tincture is a solution that has ethanol as its solvent. In herbal medicine, alcoholic tinctures are made with various ethanol concentrations, 20% being the most common.
Sutton died at Greenwich in 1835.
Sutton, Thomas. Dissertatio medica inauguralis de febre intermittente ... [Leyden], Lugduni Batavorum, Fratres Murray, 1787.
Sutton, Thomas. A Practical Account of a Remittent Fever, Frequently Occurring among the Troops in this Climate. Canterbury, Printed by James Simmons, 1806.
Sutton, Thomas. Tracts on Delirium Tremens, on Peritonitis, and on Some other Internal Inflammatory Affections, and on the Gout. London, Underwood, 1813. https://archive.org/details/tractsondelirium00sutt
Sutton, Thomas. "[Case reports]," Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal (1813): 318-321.
Sutton, Thomas. "On the Effects of Temperature in Pulmonary Consumption," The Medical and Physical Journal (1815): 89-97.
Sutton, Thomas. "On the Influence of Climate in Pulmonary Consumption," The Medical and Physical Journal (1817): 456-466.
Sutton, Thomas. Abhandlung über das Delirium tremens. Aus dem Englischen übers. von Philipp Heineken. Bremen, Kaiser, 1820.
Sutton, Thomas. "On the advantages of Milk as a Food in Fever," The London Medical Repository and Review (1822): 194-196.
Pelvic inflammatory disease, also known as pelvic inflammatory disorder (PID), is an infection of the upper part of the female reproductive system, namely the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries, and inside of the pelvis. Often, there may be no symptoms. Signs and symptoms, when present, may include lower abdominal pain, vaginal discharge, fever, burning with urination, pain with sex, bleeding after sex, or irregular menstruation. Untreated PID can result in long-term complications including infertility, ectopic pregnancy, chronic pelvic pain, and cancer.
Laudanum is a tincture of opium containing approximately 10% powdered opium by weight.
Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis characterized by recurrent attacks of a red, tender, hot, and swollen joint. Pain typically comes on rapidly, reaching maximal intensity in less than 12 hours. The joint at the base of the big toe is affected in about half of cases. It may also result in tophi, kidney stones, or kidney damage.
Familial Mediterranean fever (FMF) is a hereditary inflammatory disorder. FMF is an autoinflammatory disease caused by mutations in Mediterranean fever gene, which encodes a 781–amino acid protein called pyrin. While all ethnic groups are susceptible to FMF, it usually occurs in people of Mediterranean origin—including Sephardic Jews, Mizrahi Jews, Ashkenazi Jews, Armenians, Azerbaijanis, Arabs, Kurds, Greeks, Turks, and Italians.
Abdominal pain, also known as a stomach ache, is a symptom associated with both non-serious and serious medical issues.
Francis Hargrave (c.1741–1821) was an English lawyer and antiquary. He was the most prominent of the five advocates who appeared on behalf of James Somersett in the case which determined, in 1772, the legal status of slaves in England. Although the case was Hargrave's first, his efforts on the occasion secured his reputation.
Henry Clutterbuck M.D. (1767–1856) was an English medical writer.
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is a set of symptoms that can occur following a reduction in alcohol use after a period of excessive use. Symptoms typically include anxiety, shakiness, sweating, vomiting, fast heart rate, and a mild fever. More severe symptoms may include seizures, seeing or hearing things that others do not, and delirium tremens (DTs). Symptoms typically begin around six hours following the last drink, are worst at 24 to 72 hours, and improve by seven days.
The Medical Society of London is one of the oldest surviving medical societies in the United Kingdom.
Sir Whitelaw Ainslie FRSE (1767–1837) was a British surgeon and writer on materia medica, best known for his work in India.
John Armstrong was an English physician.
William Falconer was an English physician, miscellaneous writer, and also Fellow of the Royal Society.
Sir William Fordyce was a Scottish physician.
John Topham (1746–1803) was an English official, librarian and antiquary.
Richard Pearson was an English physician and medical writer.
William Pargeter (1760–1810) was an eighteenth-century physician in England with an interest in mental illness.
Thomas Kirkland M.D. (1721–1798) was an English physician and medical writer.
Sir Charles Scudamore (1779–1849) was an English physician, known for his writings on gout.
Charles Hunter was a British physician best known for coining the word "hypodermic" and for realising that injections of morphine could relieve pain anywhere in the body, regardless of where the injection was delivered.
Hunter, Richard A., and Ida McAlpine. Three Hundred Years of Psychiatry, 1535-1860: A History Presented in Selected English Texts. London: Oxford University Press, 1963.