Alcohol poisoning is a serious thing that can happen when you have consumed too much alcohol in a short time. Drinking too much alcohol, especially when it’s done quickly, can have adverse effects on your body and its normal functions. In the worst-case scenario, alcohol poisoning can result in slipping into a coma and potentially dying.
Who Can Suffer from Alcohol Poisoning?
Anyone, whether adult or child, can suffer from alcohol poisoning; it can occur if you have had too much alcohol to drink or even if you have drank household products that contain alcohol. The condition warrants immediate medical attention.
What Happens with Alcohol Poisoning?
When you drink too much alcohol in too short a time frame, it can cause your brain to essentially shut down. The condition is also known as an alcohol overdose.
Of course, alcohol is a depressant, which means that it has the ability to affect your brain and nervous system. When a person suffers from alcohol poisoning, their heart rate and breathing can slow down. While the liver is responsible for flushing toxins out of the body, it may be incapable of this function when too much alcohol is consumed in too short a period of time.
Alcohol poisoning can lead to brain damage if not immediately treated. The individual can also end up dying. If you know that someone you’re with has consumed too much alcohol and has passed out or seems on the verge of it, you should immediately call 911 for emergency medical attention.
Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning
A person who has alcohol poisoning will exhibit certain signs and symptoms. Some of them may start off mildly but gradually worsen. They include the following:
- Having an odor of alcohol
- Confusion and slurred speech
- Stumbling and lack of coordination
- Sweaty or clammy skin
Once alcohol poisoning is severe, the symptoms are even worse. They include the following:
- Severe confusion
- Difficulty staying awake
- Slow breathing
- Long pauses between breaths
- Low body temperature
- Very slow heartbeat
- Pale or blue-tinted skin
- Slow to respond or react
Complications of Alcohol Poisoning
In the most severe cases of alcohol poisoning, there can be even worse complications. Signs and symptoms include the following:
- Brain damage
- Severe dehydration
- Difficulty breathing due to vomit getting into the lungs
- Heart attack
When to See a Doctor
Although some of the milder symptoms of alcohol poisoning may not seem very serious, it’s important to know that you should still get medical help for a person who is experiencing them. If someone has consumed a lot of alcohol and has fallen unconscious, they are at risk for death. The faster you act, the better the chances that their life can be saved.
Alcohol Poisoning is an Emergency Situation
If you even suspect that someone around you has alcohol poisoning, you should act quickly. You don’t even have to notice the more serious signs. Seek immediate medical attention for that person by doing the following:
- Call 911 to get emergency medical attention immediately.
- Be ready to give information to emergency medical personnel about the situation, including how much and what kind of alcohol was consumed and when it was consumed.
- Stay with the person if they are unconscious to ensure they don’t get sick and potentially choke on their own vomit.
- Help the person if they do vomit by keeping them upright. If they have to lie down, make sure their head is turned to one side to prevent choking.
What are the Causes of Alcohol Poisoning?
Alcoholic beverages, mouthwash, certain medication, and other household items contain ethyl alcohol. Alcohol poisoning involving this type of alcohol typically results when a person has consumed too many alcoholic beverages in too short a time period.
There is another type of alcohol known as isopropyl alcohol, which is found in rubbing alcohol and cleaning products. Methanol or ethylene glycol is another that’s found in antifreeze, paint, and solvents. These types of alcohol can result in poisoning that is toxic and requires immediate emergency medical treatment.
Generally speaking, the main cause of alcohol poisoning is binge drinking. It occurs when a male consumes five or more alcoholic beverages over a span of two hours or when a female quickly consumes four or more drinks within that same amount of time. Binge drinking can last for several hours or span over a few days’ time.
When people binge drink, they can end up drinking a fatal amount of alcohol before losing consciousness. Even in this state, after they have stopped drinking, the alcohol is continuously released in the system and enters the bloodstream and intestines, which causes their blood alcohol level to increase.
How to Prevent Alcohol Poisoning
There are certain measures you can take to prevent alcohol poisoning from occurring. They include the following:
- Drink in moderation: If you do drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Sip your drink slowly and limit your intake to only two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.
- Avoid drinking on an empty stomach: Eat while you drink or only drink alcohol when you have already eaten, but before you’ve digested.
- Communicate: Always discuss the dangers of alcohol with your teens and explain that binge drinking can have dangerous and even deadly consequences. Speaking with them openly is more likely to prevent them from drinking.
- Store products safely: Keep alcoholic beverages and products containing alcohol out of reach of children at all times.
When you know the symptoms of alcohol poisoning, you can take faster action to get the person the help they need. Always be proactive and avoid consuming too much alcohol.