What is alcohol poisoning?
Alcohol poisoning is the result of drinking copious amounts of alcohol in a short period time. Alcohol poisoning is very serious and can sometimes be deadly. Binge drinking or drinking too much too quickly can affect your heart rate, your breathing, and your gag reflex. This can potentially lead to coma and death.
Binge drinking is rapidly consuming five or more drinks in a short span of time. Binge drinking is the main culprit of alcohol poisoning. But alcohol poisoning can also happen when you accidentally or intentionally drink household products that contain alcohol.
Someone who has alcohol poisoning requires immediate medical attention. If you think someone may have alcohol poisoning, call 911 or for emergency help immediately. The treatment for alcohol poisoning will include breathing support, intravenous fluids, and vitamins until all of the alcohol is out of the body.
What causes alcohol poisoning?
Alcohol comes in different forms. The three most common forms of alcohol are Isopropyl alcohol which you find in rubbing alcohol, lotions and cleaning products, Methanol which is common in antifreeze, paints and solvents, and Ethanol which is found in alcoholic drinks, mouthwash and some medications.
Alcohol poisoning can occur from drinking household products accidentally or purposely but usually alcohol poisoning is due to drinking too many alcoholic beverages in a short amount of time.
Alcohol is not like food. Alcohol is absorbed into the body very quickly where as food takes hours to digest. It also takes your body a long time to get rid of the alcohol you have consumed. So it hits you faster and lasts longer. Alcohol is processed by the liver and it takes about an hour for your liver to metabolize the alcohol in one drink. The rate which alcohol is metabolized varies depending on the person. But the more alcohol you give your body the more alcohol your liver has to handle and drowning it in alcohol is dangerous. Binge drinking is what usually causes your liver to become overworked.
Alcohol depresses the central nervous system. This means that alcohol affects the nerves that control your involuntary actions such as breathing, regulating body temperature, your heartbeat, and your gag reflex. Drinking too much can cause these functions to stop working properly or cause them to shut down all together which can lead to cardiac arrest or even seizures. In worst case scenarios this can lead to death.
What are the symptoms of alcohol poisoning?
Some of the symptoms of alcohol poisoning are:
- Slow breathing-this means less than eight breaths a minute
- Irregular breathing-this means there is a space of more than 10 seconds between breaths
- Blue-tinged skin or pale skin
- Low body temperature
- Unconsciousness or passing out
- Inability to wake the person
Not all of the symptoms need to present for someone to have alcohol poisoning. A person who has alcohol poisoning and cannot be woken up or is unconscious is at risk of dying so it is important to call 911 immediately.
Some factors can put at a higher risk for alcohol poisoning. For instance your age, your sex, your size and weight, and your overall health can all determine if you are at a higher risk for alcohol poisoning. This is because all of these qualities have to do with how your body processes alcohol. There are other things that can increase the risk of alcohol poisoning such as what you eat, your drug use if any, the type of alcohol you’re drinking, your tolerance level, and the rate at which you are drinking. These are quite apparent.
Alcohol poisoning is very dangerous and should be taken very seriously. No one has to die due to alcohol poisoning if everyone takes the right action and drinks responsibly. If not and you see someone who you think may have alcohol poisoning call 911 immediately.