What is alcohol poisoning?

Alcohol poisoning is a deadly condition which occurs after drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short time. It can affect the heart rate, breathing, body temperature and gag reflex and even result to coma and death.

Alcohol poisoning also happen when an individual accidentally or intentionally ingested any household products that contains alcohol. In such cases, medical care is required right away.

Symptoms of alcohol poisoning

  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Irregular breathing with a gap of more than 10 seconds between breathing
  • Slow breathing which is less than 8 breaths per minute
  • The skin becomes bluish or pale
    Alcohol poisoning

    Irregular breathing with a gap of more than 10 seconds between breathing

  • Hypothermia or low body temperature
  • The individual is unresponsive but conscious or in a state of stupor

What are the causes?

Alcohol poisoning can be caused by binge drinking which is a pattern of heavy drinking which involves excessive consumption of 5 or more alcoholic drinks in 2 hours. Alcohol binging can happen in hours or last for several days. Even if the affected person is unconscious or has already stopped drinking, alcohol can still spread to the stomach and intestines and into the bloodstream. The level of alcohol in the body is high. Most of the alcohol consumed is processed by the liver and it takes about an hour for the organ to process or metabolize the alcohol.

  • 12 ounces of regular beer is 5% alcohol
  • 8-9 ounces of malt liquor is 7% alcohol
  • 5 ounces of wine is 12% alcohol
  • 5 ounces of 80-proof hard liquor is 40% alcohol
  • Mixed drinks contains more servings of alcohol and takes a longer time to metabolize

Treatment

  • Do not leave an unconscious individual alone. The individual can choke on his/her own vomit and can experience difficulty breathing.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to rehydrate the body. Alcohol can dehydrate the body due to excessive vomiting and drinking plenty of water results to frequent urination which can eliminate alcohol from the bloodstream.
  • Allow the affected person lay on his/her side to prevent choking due to vomiting.
  • Keep the breathing pattern stable preferably 8 breaths per minute.
  • Try to keep the individual awake and do not force him/her to walk.
  • Keep the individual warm by covering him/her with a blanket, coat or other items that can provide warmth and reduce the risk for shock.
  • Do not provide coffee or a cold shower.

Tips

  • Drink alcohol in moderation to prevent becoming dependent on the substance.
  • Women should only drink 2-3 units of alcohol every day and men not more than 3-4 units of alcohol every day.
  • Drink water in between while drinking alcohol to keep the body hydrated.
  • Maintain at least 2 days of alcohol-free days every week to lessen the risk of becoming dependent on the substance and allow the body recover from previous drinking.

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