Alcohol Poisoning: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
At parties or gatherings, things are always more exciting with some cups of beer or cocktails for people to relax and have a great time. However, sometimes things get out of hand, and these occasions may also include binge drinking. This can lead to something called alcohol poisoning. In this article, we are discussing abount symptoms as well as treatment for this condition.
- 1 What is alcohol poisoning?
- 2 Symptoms
- 3 Complications
- 4 Causes of alcohol poisoning
- 5 Risk factors of alcohol poisoning
- 6 Alcohol poisoning: Home and hospital treatment
- 7 Recommended alcohol limits
What is alcohol poisoning?
Alcohol poisoning means that your blood contains too much alcohol, and it causes parts of the brain to begin to shut down. This condition is also referred to as alcohol overdose. This occurs when a person drinks an excessive amount of alcohol and therefore the body overworks to keep the toxins out of the bloodstream. Being poisoned by alcohol can affect your brain, slow your heart rate and lead to many other risks, potentially coma and death.
Alcohol poisoning can also occur when a person accidentally drinks household products that contain alcohol, in this case, are usually children.
Alcohol poisoning statistics
- In the United States, there are about 2000 alcohol poisoning deaths per year
- 76% of alcohol poisoning deaths range from the age of 35 to 64
- Most people who die from alcohol overdose are men
Alcohol poisoning or hangover?
They both share some similar symptoms, however, alcohol poisoning hangover is very different from a usual hangover, and it can be fatal in the worst situation.
If you wake up in the morning and you feel dizzy, tired or you experience a slight headache, then there is little to worry about. But if these symptoms get worse, you should probably go to a doctor to have a check-up, or you can follow one of our alcohol poisoning home remedies.
A person is having alcohol poisoning if experiencing the following symptoms
- Slow breathing or irregular breathing
- The skin appears to be pale
- Low body temperature (hypothermia)
- Vomiting (alcohol poisoning black vomit)
- Loss of coordination, severe confusion
- Passing out or being unconscious
In the next parts of the article, there will be some alcohol poisoning remedies in order to relieve these symptoms.
Many dangerous complications may result from alcohol poisoning. They can be temporary or alcohol poisoning long term effects:
- Vomiting: continuous vomiting can lead to alcohol black vomit or vomiting blood. This happens when a blood vessel in the stomach is torn.
- Stopping breathing: Alcohol may cause vomiting. Accidentally inhaling vomit can lead to a dangerous interruption of breathing in your lungs.
- Alcohol poisoning blindness: The most common cause of blindness from drinking is methyl alcohol (methanol). Methanol poisoning happens when your body is processing a large amount of methanol there is too much acid in your bloodstream. This acid will then attack your optic nerve and may lead to permanent blindness.
- Heart attack: Being poisoned by alcohol can cause the heart to beat irregularly or even stop. It can even give you a heart attack.
- Alcohol poisoning stomach pain: Consuming too much alcohol will affect your digestive system and cause your stomach to produce more acid than usual. This will harm your liver, ladder and trigger stomach pain.
- Dehydration: Alcohol poisoning can also lead to severe dehydration, which might dangerously decrease your blood pressure.
- Alcohol poisoning rash on face: You might experience alcohol poisoning red face, symptoms of which are similar to alcohol allergy or alcohol intolerance. Besides rashes, alcohol poisoning hives might also appear on your skin as well.
- Seizures: The sharp decline in your blood sugar level may cause seizures.
- Hypothermia (low body temperature)
- Alcohol poisoning and brain damage: alcohol poisoning effects on brain are serious and damaging.
In more serious cases, being poisoned can lead to coma, alcohol poisoning brain damage, and eventually death. Consuming too much alcohol can also affect a person's judgment, therefore put their health and safety at risk.
Causes of alcohol poisoning
Alcoholic beverages contain one form of alcohol called ethyl alcohol, and this is what causes alcohol poisoning. Alcohol in the form of ethanol (ethyl alcohol) is present in alcoholic drinks, mouthwash, cooking ingredients, certain drugs as well as other household items. Ethyl alcohol poisoning is usually the result of consuming too many alcoholic drinks, particularly within a short period of time.
Other forms of alcohol such as isopropyl alcohol, methanol or ethylene glycol, which are often found in rubbing alcohol, cleaning products and paints, can cause different types of toxic poisoning that require emergency treatment.
The most well-known cause of alcohol poisoning is binge drinking. This is the typical pattern of heavy drinking when a person continuously consumes more than five alcoholic drinks within two hours. The more alcohol you drink in a short time, the easier you get alcohol poisoning.
You may have consumed a fatal dose of alcohol before you pass out. Alcohol is still being released into your bloodstream even when you are unconscious or stop drinking alcohol. This means that the alcohol level in your body continues to rise. Alcohol does not take hours to digest, and it is absorbed by your body right away. After being consumed, your body (specifically your liver) takes more time to get rid of the alcohol.
Risk factors of alcohol poisoning
Besides the direct consequences of drinking too much, alcohol poisoning can also be based on other factors:
- Your body count
- Your overall health status
- The food you have consumed recently
- Medications are taken with alcohol
- Your tolerance level
Men and middle-aged adults are the groups who have the highest odds of getting alcohol poisoning. Men usually drink more than women. And middle-aged people often take prescription drugs while they are drinking, which can easily lead to alcohol poisoning.
Alcohol poisoning: Home and hospital treatment
If you suspect someone to have alcohol poisoning, follow these alcohol poisoning first aid steps:
- Call 911 right away, request an ambulance
- Don’t leave the person alone
- Keep them awake and sitting up
- Check if the person is breathing properly
- Give the person water when able to drink
- Alcohol poisoning what to eat: don’t give them food or medication of any kind if they are not from the doctor’s instruction
- Cover the person with a warm blanket
- If the person is unconscious and not responding, lay them down onto their side to prevent choking on vomit
- Tell the medical staff about the symptoms and how much that person drank
The alcohol level in the bloodstream continues to rise for up to 30 minutes since the last drink. This means their symptoms can suddenly become much more serious, and this is why you should never leave a person with alcohol poisoning alone. Also, do not try to wake them up by cold water or any other methods that are not mentioned as it might worsen the situation. Following the above alcohol poisoning emergency treatment steps will ensure that the symptoms do not get more serious.
Alcohol poisoning hospital treatment
Apart from the above alcohol poisoning home treatment, you will also get extra medical attention in the hospital. If you have consumed an alarming amount of alcohol, doctors might have to "pump" your stomach to keep leftover alcohol from getting into your bloodstream. An alcohol poisoning stomach pump means the doctor will stick a tube down your stomach to remove contents of the stomach, as well as to prevent any more alcohol from entering the bloodstream.
At the hospital, you may also receive extra supportive care while your body processes the alcohol. Doctors will:
- Remove toxins from your bloodstream
- Give you extra oxygen for easier breathing
- Flush toxins out of your stomach
- Give you fluids through a vein to prevent dehydration
- Careful monitoring
- Provide vitamins and glucose as well as some alcohol poisoning medicines to help prevent serious complications
The doctor will also give the patient some alcohol poisoning antidotes in order to reduce or completely remove the remaining alcohol from your body system.
Alcohol poisoning how to stop vomiting
You may experience blood vomiting after taking a large amount of alcohol. The blood in vomit can appear red or black like coffee grounds. This happens due to a number of reasons: throat irritation, gastritis, ulcers, torn vessels or alcohol-related liver conditions. If this symptom occurs, try and follow these guides:
- Eat before you drink: This will prevent your stomach from irritation and alcohol from entering your bloodstream
- Stay hydrated: Not just with alcohol, you should also drink some water to keep yourself hydrated
- Avoid drinking alcohol alongside medication and drugs
- Follow a recommended alcohol limit: spread out your drinks instead of binge drinking just in one night
Recommended alcohol limits
If you are a regular drinker, try to follow an alcohol limit to reduce the risks of being poisoned by alcohol
- Drinkers are advised not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week
- If you do drink 14 units a week or more, try to divide the amount of alcohol into separate days instead of consuming them all in one night
One unit of alcohol is equivalent to a small shot of spirits (25ml, ABV 40%) or half a pint of beer (ABV 3.6%). You should also avoid binge drinking because it is very dangerous and might put you at risk of alcohol poisoning.
The Final Thought
From alcohol poisoning stages to home treatment remedies, the above are some essential information you need in order to deal with being poisoned from drinking alcoholic beverages. Eventually, the best alcohol poisoning cure is to actually control your alcohol consumption amount to avoid any possible events.