Alcohol is a powerful toxin that many people put in their bodies on a regular basis. The alcohol hits the blood stream much quicker than food, which causes the body to be affected greatly by this substance. The liver can only handle about one unit of alcohol an hour. If a person consumes more than this amount, the toxin lingers in the bloodstream causing the drinker to become intoxicated. This build up of alcohol in the body increases and the person becomes at serious risk for alcohol poisoning.
What is Alcohol Poisoning?
Alcohol poisoning is a serious condition that can cause severe illness and even death. If the BAC (blood alcohol content) rises quickly, it can be very dangerous. A person who might have been poisoned by alcohol will act very confused, have changes in breathing and can even become unconscious. This toxic shock to the system caused by alcohol normally requires immediate medical attention.
Who is at Risk for Alcohol Poisoning?
Studies show that anyone who drinks heavily can be a potential risk for alcohol poisoning. Each year, there are around 50,000 cases in the United States alone. About one person in this country dies each week from alcohol poisoning. That is a staggering number of deaths from a condition that can be prevented so easily. College students, chronic alcoholics, and children who do not have experience with alcohol are at the highest risk to develop the condition.
What are the Symptoms and Signs of Alcohol Poisoning?
Many heavy drinkers consume alcohol so quickly that their BAC skyrockets. Even after they stop drinking, the BAC can continue to rise for a short period of time because it takes a few minutes for the alcohol to hit your blood stream. There is a very thin line between being very drunk and being poisoned by alcohol. By understanding some of the signs and symptoms, it is easier to recognize the difference. One of the most common symptoms is confusion that turns into a person being conscious but unresponsive. Often a person who has been affected by alcohol poisoning will wander in a daze and cannot communicate at all.
Alcohol poisoning can also cause hypothermia, a drop in the body temperature of a person. This is a dangerous symptom because a consistent temperature is important for human body and brain function. Skin may also grow pale or even slightly blue in tint. This can also be related to hypothermia in alcohol poisoned individuals. Other symptoms include slow and shallow breathing, vomiting, and passing out. These last few symptoms are extremely dangerous and if you suspect someone around you has consumed toxic amounts of alcohol, you should look for these signs.
In some cases, a person can fall into a coma. This can cause brain damage, as well as many other health problems to the entire body. If a person begins vomiting, this can also be very dangerous because they can inhale the vomit into the lungs. This can cause irreparable damage to the respiratory system.
How is Alcohol Poisoning Treated?
Contrary to popular belief, coffee will not cure ailments related to heavy drinking. It actually hinders the sobering process, if anything. Coffee can add to dehydration, which is a common result of drinking too much alcohol. Water is a much better option if trying to get fluids into someone who you suspect has consumed toxic amounts of alcohol.
If an individual who is possibly poisoned by alcohol is responsive, it is important to keep them that way. Try to keep them awake by sitting them up. Never lie someone down who is potentially poisoned because it can promote vomiting or passing out. You may need to monitor breathing as well until emergency medical help can arrive. You may keep the person in the seated position and do not make them walk around, which is a common treatment when dealing with drunk people. This is dangerous because of the risk of falling or passing out.
If a person is admitted into an emergency room or hospital, it is common to monitor the individual until the BAC has dropped to a safe level. Medical professionals might have to add fluids to aid in re-hydration as well. In some cases, kidney dialysis is also necessary to flush the system of the toxic alcohol.
Alcohol poisoning is a common illness among heavy drinkers and binge drinkers. Often without knowing it, a person can consume way too much alcohol. This causes a drastic rise in the BAC, which potentially can cause serious health problems, even death in some cases. The key to preventing alcohol poisoning is to be mindful and drink responsibly.