Alcohol poisoning is a life-threatening condition caused by ingestion of high amount of alcohol. In this article we will explain what are the signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning so that you can respond appropriately and potentially save life of an intoxicated person.
What is Alcohol Poisoning?
Alcohol poisoning occurs when the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream is dangerously high. This is typically caused by binge drinking, which means drinking a lot of alcohol in relatively short time. Therefore, regular drinkers are not the only ones who are prone to alcohol poisoning but the condition may affect any individual who occasionally drinks. Alcohol poisoning severely affects mental and physical function of the body and may lead to death.
Causes of Alcohol Poisoning
As already said, the leading cause of alcohol poisoning is binge drinking. However, it may also occur when a person accidentally drinks household products containing high levels of alcohol. In any case, alcohol poisoning is caused by abnormally high blood alcohol concentration.
Alcohol is rapidly absorbed through the stomach into the blood and then distributed to different body organs. Since alcohol acts as a depressant, it slows down nerves that control involuntary actions such as heartbeat and breathing. An extremely high dose of alcohol can stop these functions and result in death.
Blood alcohol levels are also determined by the speed at which alcohol was ingested, strength of the alcohol drink, whether alcohol was consumed on an empty or full stomach and size and body weight of the drinker. Individuals with heart diseases and diabetes are at increased risk of alcohol poisoning.
Signs of Alcohol Poisoning
Alcohol does not equally affect each person. However, there are several common signs and symptoms that indicate alcohol poisoning. An intoxicated person can be recognized by slurred or slowed speech and erratic behavior. Alcohol poisoning cases pale or blue skin, vomiting, seizures, confusion, slow or irregular breathing, stupor, hypothermia and unconsciousness.
Alcohol poisoning is an emergency as it can result in severe brain damage due to lack of oxygen supply to the brain caused by slow breathing. If the intoxicated person is asleep or unconscious, turn him to his side to prevent aspiration if the person should vomit.
Treatment for Alcohol Poisoning
Treatment for alcohol poisoning consists of careful monitoring of the intoxicated person and supportive care until alcohol is eliminated from the body. The treatment includes oxygen therapy, pumping the stomach and intravenous administration of fluids to prevent dehydration. A catheter may be also inserted into the bladder to drain urine.