Alcohol poisoning

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Alcohol poisoning is considered serious and often life-threatening. It is due to the consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol in just a short period. Understandably, drinking excessively can affect the heart rate, breathing, gag reflex and body temperature and it can potentially lead to coma and even death.

Alcohol poisoning
Alcohol poisoning can lead to unconsciousness.

This poisoning can also occur if adults or children intentionally or accidentally consumed household products that contain alcohol. An individual suffering from alcohol poisoning requires immediate medical attention. In case you suspect an individual has alcohol poisoning, immediately call for emergency assistance right away.

Symptoms of alcohol poisoning

  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Irregular and diminished rate of breathing
  • Blue-colored or pale skin
  • Low body temperature
  • Unconsciousness

Take note that it is not required for all these symptoms to be present before seeking medical help. An individual who is unconscious or could not be awakened is at risk for dying.

Alcohol poisoning is considered as an emergency

If an individual has consumed a lot of alcohol and the symptoms are present, there are certain steps to take.

  • Call the local emergency number right away.
  • Readily provide information the alcohol taken and when.
  • Do not leave the unconscious individual alone. Always remember that alcohol poisoning affects the gag reflex, thus the individual might choke on his/her vomit and could not breathe. While waiting for help to arrive, do not induce vomiting because the individual can choke.
  • If the individual is vomiting, keep him/her in sitting position. If lying down, turn to his/her side or head to the side to prevent choking. Keep the individual awake to prevent loss of consciousness.

Causes of alcohol poisoning

The alcohol content in the form of ethanol is present in alcoholic beverages, cooking extracts, mouthwash, certain household products and medications. Excessive intake will lead to poisoning in just a short period of time.

Other forms of alcohol such as isopropyl alcohol, ethylene glycol or methanol can result to toxic poisoning that entails emergency treatment.

The main cause of alcohol poisoning is binge drinking. This is heavy drinking in which five or more alcoholic drinks are consumed in just two hours. In most cases, an alcohol binge can occur for hours or even last up to several days. Always remember that an individual can consume a fatal dose before passing out. Even if the individual is unconscious or have stopped drinking, the alcohol continues to go through the stomach, intestines and into the bloodstream. Understandably, the alcohol levels in the body continue to rise.

How to treat alcohol poisoning

The treatment for alcohol poisoning typically involves supportive care while the body eliminates the alcohol. Treating alcohol poisoning involves the following:

  • Strict monitoring
  • Preventing choking and breathing problems
  • Oxygen therapy
  • Administration of fluids intravenously to prevent dehydration
  • Intake of glucose and vitamins to prevent complications of alcohol poisoning

Both adults and children who accidentally consumed isopropyl or methanol require hemodialysis.  This is a process which involves the filtering of waste from the body. It helps speed up the elimination of alcohol present in the bloodstream.

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