Alcohol poisoning results from drinking a large quantity of alcohol, normally in a short period of time. Drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time can be potentially life threatening as it can affect heart rate, breathing, gag reflex, and body temperature. Extreme cases of alcohol poisoning can possibly lead to coma and ultimately even death. If someone is suspected of having alcohol poisoning, it is vital that they receive immediate medical attention. Alcohol poisoning cannot be treated by “sleeping it off” or drinking coffee. Recognizing the signs of alcohol poisoning and knowing what to do in the situation could mean the difference between life and death.
The Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning
There can be a very fine line between being extremely intoxicated and dangerously intoxicated. Being able to spot the symptoms of alcohol poisoning is crucial, as the person suffering will not be a in state in which they can help themselves. Symptoms to watch for include confusion, vomiting, and loss of coordination. More severe symptoms include seizures, pale or blue tinged skin, slow breathing (normally less than eight breaths per minute), and low body temperature. Someone suffering from alcohol poisoning may also pass out and become unresponsive.
What To Do and What Not To Do
If you suspect that someone is suffering from alcohol poisoning, the next steps you take can either help or hurt the situation. The following are things you should never do if you suspect someone of having alcohol poisoning:
Do Not Give Coffee – Alcohol will dehydrate the body and giving someone who is already dehydrated coffee, will make them even more dehydrated. Severe dehydration can lead to severe medical issues including permanent brain damage.
Do Not Let Them Sleep It Off – Your first inclination may be to put your friend to bed if you suspect that they have drank too much. This is not however a good idea. The amount of alcohol in a person’s blood will continue to rise even after they have stopped drinking. As alcohol moves through the digestive system, it will continue to be absorbed into the bloodstream. Once too much alcohol has entered the bloodstream, the body cannot function properly.
Do Not Try To Make Someone Sick – It is often thought that if you drink too much alcohol, making yourself sick will help. Someone suffering from alcohol poisoning may not have control of their gag reflex. Therefore, trying to make them get sick could cause them to choke on their own vomit.
Do Not Put Them In A Cold Shower – There is a common misconception that putting someone who is severely intoxicated into a cold shower will help them to wake up and sober up. If someone is suffering from alcohol poisoning, this could be dangerous. Alcohol causes the body temperature to drop and a cold shower could lead to hypothermia or worse.
The following steps should be taken if you suspect someone of alcohol poisoning:
- Keep the person awake and upright.
- Try to give them some water, if they are able to drink it.
- If the person has passed out, lie them on their side and check their breathing.
- Place a blanket over them and try to keep them warm.
- Closely monitor their symptoms until help arrives.
If you suspect that someone is suffering from alcohol poisoning, it is important to call 911 immediately. The amount of time it takes someone who has alcohol poisoning to get help can affect how likely they are to recover. Medical professionals can take a number of steps to treat people who have alcohol poisoning. Some of the steps taken by medical professionals in treating alcohol poisoning include inserting a tube into the person’s windpipe to assist them in breathing, and hooking them up to an IV to increase their blood sugar, water, and vitamin levels. In severe cases of alcohol poisoning, medical professionals will pump the stomach by flushing a fluid solution through a tube this is inserted into either the mouth or nose. Alcohol can be a dangerous substance when not used responsibly. It is important to take safety precautions when consuming alcohol and to know your limit.
Further Information on Alcohol Poisoning
The Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning