Thomas Sutton (physician)

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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.

Physician professional who practices medicine

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 rapid onset of confusion caused by alcohol withdrawal; usually lasts for 2–3 days; symptoms include nightmare, agitation, global confusion, disorientation, hallucination, fever, high blood pressure, heavy sweating

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 (drug) active ingredient in alcoholic beverages

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 The science and practice of the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of physical and mental illnesses

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 Capital of the United Kingdom

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 Capital city in Scotland

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.

Brain organ that serves as the center of the nervous system in all vertebrate and most invertebrate animals

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 state of abnormally elevated or irritable mood, arousal, and/or energy levels

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.

Tincture Extract of plant or animal material dissolved in ethanol

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.

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.

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