Everything you Need to Know About Alcohol Poisoning | Scripps

Excessive drinking can be hazardous to our health, everyone knows that. But did you know that you can actually die from drinking too much alcohol and causing your blood to become toxic, which ultimately shuts down your body? Alcohol poisoning is a very serious consequence of drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short amount of time and it can be deadly. When you get alcohol poisoning, there is so much alcohol in your blood that it is actually considered toxic, or poisonous. This is a very serious condition and alcohol poisoning can even happen after someone stops drinking or falls asleep. In the United States approximately 6 people die from alcohol poisoning every day. It is important to know the symptoms associated with alcohol poisoning, so that you can recognize when someone is at risk and get them the help they need before it is too late. Here is everything you need to know about alcohol poisoning.

Everything you Need to Know About Alcohol Poisoning

Everything you Need to Know About Alcohol Poisoning

Symptoms and Complications

It is very difficult to determine how much alcohol is too much and will result in alcohol poisoning. Men and women are affected by alcohol differently and many factors go into how much alcohol will put a person in danger. Your size and weight, overall health, amount of food in your stomach, tolerance level, and amount of alcohol in your system are all risk factors for alcohol poisoning. Some symptoms of alcohol poisoning are confusion, low body temperature or hypothermia, pale skin (sometimes with a blue tinge), vomiting, seizures, a loss of coordination, unresponsiveness while conscious, and irregular breathing. There are many complications that can result from alcohol poisoning such as choking, severe dehydration, brain damage and stopping breathing. All of these complications can result in death.

Alcohol poisoning and the spins

Alcohol poisoning and the spins

What Happens to Your Body During Alcohol Poisoning.

When you drink too much alcohol in a short amount of time, the brain starts to shut down and normal bodily functions slow down or stop completely. Drinking too much alcohol can lower your heart rate, cause your body to lose temperature regulation, and slow down the nerves that control involuntary actions, such as breathing and your gag reflex, which helps prevent choking. Since it is common for someone who drank a lot of alcohol to vomit, there is a risk of choking which can ultimately cause death in a person who is unconscious from being intoxicated. It is also important to note that a person’s blood alcohol level (BAC) can continue to rise even after they stop drinking or fall asleep. This is because the alcohol in your stomach and intestine continues to circulate in your body and bloodstream, which is why it is very dangerous to recommend that someone sleep it off if they drank too much alcohol.

What not to do.

Alcohol poisoning is very dangerous, and many people make it worse while trying to help. Do not give someone caffeine when you think they are suffering from alcohol poisoning because that will make them even more dehydrated and susceptible to brain damage. You should never ask someone to sleep it off when they drank too much alcohol, because their BAC will continue to rise and make symptoms worse. Their body will stop working properly and going to sleep could end in death. Do not try and get them to vomit because they might choke. Someone suffering from alcohol poisoning should not take a cold shower at the risk of lowering their body temperature even more and they should not be walking around because of the risk of potentially causing an accident. Never leave someone alone if you think they are suffering from alcohol poisoning. 

What to do when someone has alcohol poisoning.

What to do when someone has alcohol poisoning.

What to do if you Think Someone has Alcohol Poisoning.

If someone is showing signs of alcohol poisoning, you should keep them awake and sitting straight up. If they are able to, they should drink some water slowly, and try to keep them warm with a blanket. If someone has passed out after drinking too much, it is important to lie them on their side so they aren’t at risk of choking and be sure to check their breathing and monitor their symptoms. If someone is suffering from alcohol poisoning and their symptoms are not getting better, you should call 911 or get them to a hospital immediately. Depending on a person’s BAC level and severity of symptoms, medical staff might need to insert a tube in their windpipe to help with breathing. They might do an IV drip to help manage important body function, use a catheter, or even pump a patient’s stomach to lower their BAC level. Alcohol poisoning is no joke and can cause serious damage to a person’s brain, body function, and potentially cause death very quickly.

Tips to Help Prevent Alcohol Poisoning.

If you do drink alcohol, make sure to drink in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women and two for men. Enjoy your drink slowly and never drink alcohol on an empty stomach. If you are a parent, make sure to communicate with your teenagers and teach them the dangers of drinking alcohol. Keep your alcohol in a safe place away from children and pay attention to what is in your household products like cleaners, mouthwashes, and medications, because some of those contain alcohol as well and can cause alcohol poisoning in children. 

Don’t be afraid to seek medical help for a friend who has had too much to drink. People often mistake the warning signs of alcohol poisoning for general intoxication, and that assumption can be deadly. Alcohol poisoning is no joke and should be taken very seriously. If you or a friend have a drinking problem, do not hesitate to reach out for help.

To find out more about our 12-week alcohol treatment study in San Diego, call us at (858) 784-7867 (STOP). Also, if you are a frequent drinker with no intention of quitting alcohol, call to find out if you’re eligible volunteer for a 5-week, paid research study that aims to develop new medications for those suffering from alcohol use disorder.

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