What is Alcohol Poisoning?
Alcohol poisoning is the consequence of drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time. Drinking too much too quickly. Food can take hours to digest whereas alcohol will be absorbed by your body quickly and will take a lot more time for your body to get rid of. Most alcohol is processed by the liver and in general, it can take about an hour for the liver to metabolize the alcohol in one drink.
Alcohol overdoses can range in severity, from problems with balance and slurred speech to coma or even death. Alcohol poisoning occurs when the bloodstream contains too much alcohol which affects the basic body functions like breathing, heart rate, temperature control, and gag reflex. In the presence of too much alcohol, these body functions become less responsive and can shut down.
Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms
- unresponsive but conscious (stupor)
- Irregular breathing (10 seconds or more between breaths).
- Slow breathing (fewer than eight breaths per minute).
- Hypothermia (body temperature drops),
- Bluish skin color, paleness.
- Unconsciousness – passing out and cannot be awakened
What to do?
Alcohol poisoning is a serious matter it could lead to death. If you suspect a person has alcohol poisoning get help right away by calling Emergency 9-1-1 or a poison control center to get help as fast as possible.If you know the amount and what kind of alcohol the person drank tell the emergency service you are contacting.
There are so many wrong ideas of what to do in this situation, there are certain things that should NEVER be done so be aware of what NOT to do.
- Do not leave them by themselves. A person with alcohol poisoning can lose their gag reflex and if they vomit and no one is around they can easily choke to death.
- Cold showers or baths should be avoided because the digestive system processes alcohol the body temperature will continue to drop. Instead, cover them with a warm blanket and monitor their breathing until the ambulance arrives.
- Do not lay them on their back, prop them up with pillows or keep them sitting up to prevent vomiting and choking. If this is not feasible in your situation, make sure to turn the person’s head to the side when they are lying down — this helps prevent choking.
- Do not give them coffee, alcohol dehydrates and so does coffee so by giving them coffee you may cause severe dehydration which can cause brain damage.
- Do not induce vomiting as their gag reflex is compromised and they could chock.
- Do not walk them around, because alcohol affects the sense of balance and could cause injuries.
Alcohol Poisoning Treatment
Depending on the blood alcohol levels and severity of symptoms, a person may be treated in different ways. They may be;
- Closely monitoring until the alcohol levels drop.
- Have a tube inserted into their windpipe to assist in their breathing.
- Given an intravenous drip to hydration and control blood glucose and vitamin levels.
- Fitted with a urinary catheter if there is incontinence.
- In some cases, the patient’s stomach may be pumped.
It can be difficult to judge whether or not a person has drunk too much alcohol and is in need of medical assistance. Being afraid to ask for help because of uncertainty can have lasting consequences so do not hesitate, call 911 for help.