Alcohol poisoning is a severe and, at times, life-threatening consequence of binge drinking in a short span of time. When you drink a large amount of alcohol too quickly, it significantly impacts your gag reflex, body temperature, heart rate, and breathing and could result in a coma or a fatality.
This can happen to children or adults who intentionally or accidentally consume too much of products that include alcohol. If you suspect someone is experiencing alcohol poisoning, it is integral to call emergency services immediately.
It can be hard to watch a loved one go through it, and your first thought would be to help them. However, it is important to avoid trying to treat them yourself and wait for the medical professionals to arrive. Understanding more about this issue is an excellent way to know what happens and the right way to help a loved one.
What is Alcohol Poisoning?
When you drink alcohol, it is absorbed in the blood and rapidly distributed in the body. Alcohol is an irritant to your stomach, a depressant to the central nervous system, and a mood-altering substance. Alcohol consumption in large quantities in a short time increases the risk of an overdose.
It cause parts of the brain to shut down, resulting in the person losing control of their body. It can lead to severe health issues and even result in death.
Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning
Alcohol poisoning can lead to severe health consequences for the drinker. It is essential to learn to identify the signs to help someone get medical attention on time. Here are some of the major symptoms:
- Dangerously low rate of breathing
- Abnormal breathing
- Unresponsiveness while being conscious (stupor)
- Pale skin
In cases of severe binge drinking and alcohol poisoning, here are the common signs:
- Breathing might completely stop
- Choking on vomit
- Occurrence heart attack
- Severe dehydration
When there is extreme alcohol poisoning, there is also a high risk of the individual going into a coma or dying.
Complications from Alcohol Poisoning
Alcohol poisoning can also result in severe complications that could lead to permanent damage if not treated immediately. Some complications might include the following:
- Choking: Since alcohol poisoning can result in vomiting and it also reduces the gag reflex, it can enhance the risk of choking if the person vomits and is passed out
- Breathing problems: Accidental inhaling of vomit in the lungs could result in fatal or dangerous breathing interruption
- Dehydration: Continuous vomiting could cause severe dehydration, resulting in a dangerously fast heart rate and low blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat: It can result in an irregular heartbeat or even stop the heart
- Seizure: If the level of blood sugar drastically drops, it can result in seizures
- Hypothermia: The body temperature could get drastically low enough to cause cardiac arrest
- Brain Damage: Binge drinking irresponsibly can lead to permanent brain damage
- Death: Any of these complications could result in a fatality
How Long Does Alcohol Poisoning Last?
The time alcohol poisoning last depends on multiple factors, including the number of drinks consumed, the weight and age of the person, as well as their overall physical health. While there isn’t any set limit, letting your blood alcohol concentration be above 0.08 should be avoided. Going over 0.31 could be life-threatening and requires medical attention.
Drinking too much means it would take many hours for the body to recover and suffer from complications. Having kidney or liver issues could make alcohol poisoning last even longer. Severe cases could cause permanent liver or brain damage.
Ways to Treat Alcohol Poisoning
If you notice alcohol poisoning symptoms in someone, it is crucial that you call emergency services. Avoid trying to experiment with medication, as this could worsen the problem. Alcohol poisoning requires treatment by a professional under careful observation.
The treatments might include:
- IV fluids to improve and maintain levels of vitamins, blood sugar, and hydration
- Oxygen therapy or intubation to assist with choking or breathing problems
- Pumping or flushing the stomach to remove alcohol from the stomach
- Hemodialysis to speed the alcohol removal process from the blood
However, you can still help the person from worsening until the medical professional arrives. Here are some things you can do:
- Prevent the individual from walking
- Make sure they stay awake
- Help them drink water to avoid dehydration
Tips to Prevent Alcohol Poisoning
Here are some tips for drinking responsibly and avoiding alcohol poisoning:
- Always limit the amount of alcohol you drink. For adults with healthy physical health, moderation drinking is one glass of drink per day for women and men above 65 and two glasses of drink per day for men below 65.
- Drink your alcohol slowly and avoid drinking on an empty stomach. Have some food to slow the absorption of alcohol.
- Learn to identify the signs of alcohol poisoning to help your loved one if there is a need.
- If you have teenagers, be sure to talk openly to them about the dangers of binge drinking.
- Always keep alcoholic drinks and other alcohol-containing products, like medication, mouthwashes, and cosmetics, away from children’s reach. Store them in a child-proof cabinet or a locked cabinet.
- If you or your loved one has undergone alcohol poisoning treatment, be sure to go for follow-up appointments and ask for ways to prevent it from happening again.
- Consult a mental health care professional if you or your loved one has been binge drinking or is experiencing chemical dependency.
Alcohol poisoning is a severe problem that could cause complications and even result in fatality. If you or your loved one is experiencing it, it is crucial to get immediate medical attention. Drinking responsibility is the key to avoiding it. Be sure to keep track of the number of drinks you and your loved one drink to not only enjoy the moment but prevent health issues.
If someone you know is dealing with a drinking problem, it is wise to seek help from a professional mental health team. Mental health counseling can help find the root cause of the alcohol addiction to ensure your loved one finds healthy ways to cope.