Alcohol Poisoning: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Check the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and tips for prevention of alcohol poisoning.

2 min read
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There are people who love partying and enjoy a few drinks or beer for fun. People may consume beer, wine, or liquor to celebrate or relax. When alcohol is consumed in moderation, it is not that dangerous but too much alcohol may cause a hangover. One needs to stop drinking after a certain point else they could be putting themselves in a life-threatening situation. When a person’s blood-alcohol level rises, the risk of alcohol poisoning increases.

Alcohol poisoning is dangerous and can be life-threatening. It occurs when a person drinks a large quantity of alcohol in a short time. It may also be a result of drinking any type of alcohol, including beer, wine, or liquor. When blood alcohol levels are high, the overwhelmed liver can’t remove the toxins quickly.

The extra alcohol in the bloodstream is a depressant that reduces normal function and affects the parts of the brain that control vital body functions like breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature. Let's know more about alcohol poisoning and its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.


Alcohol Poisoning: Causes

When the alcohol level in the blood rises, it causes alcohol poisoning or alcohol overdose. Alcohol in the blood is measured by blood-alcohol content (BAC) as a percentage.

Between 0.0 and 0.05% level is considered a mild impairment and may cause symptoms like difficulty in speaking and remembering things. The person may seem clumsy and sleepy.

Between 0.06 and 0.15% means increased impairment that has a significant impact on driving skills.

Between 0.16 and 0.30% makes the increased impairment worse and affects judgment and decision-making skills. The person may suffer from blackouts and vomiting.

Between 0.31 and 0.45% may be life-threatening since the depressant causes vital life functions to slow too much.

Alcohol Poisoning: Symptoms

According to the doctors of the Mayo Clinic, these are the common symptoms of alcohol poisoning:

  • Bluish, cold, or clammy skin, especially around the lips and fingernails.

  • Confusion, slow responses, and lack of coordination

  • Unconsciousness

  • Hypothermia.

  • Irregular pulse, heartbeat, or breathing

  • Problems with bladder or bowel control

  • Seizures, vomiting, or choking.

  • Strong alcohol odor


Alcohol Poisoning: Diagnosis & Treatment

  • Breathalyzer: When a person drinks alcohol, the alcohol goes through the bloodstream to the lungs. There, it evaporates into the lungs, and you breathe it out. The breathalyzer can estimate your BAC by detecting the amount of alcohol in your breath.

  • A Blood test can help analyzes the BAC and it gives most accurate results within six to 12 hours after the last drink you consume.

According to Cleveland Clinic, these are the treatment options for Alcohol Poisoning:

  • IV fluids to treat dehydration and increase blood sugar levels.

  • Oxygen using a nasal cannula (flexible tube clipped to the nose) if a person has trouble breathing.

  • Stomach pumping to clear the stomach of toxins.

  • Blood filtration if kidneys aren’t able to do the job. It helps remove alcohol from the bloodstream.

Alcohol Poisoning: Prevention

  • Avoid drinking games since continuous drinking can put pressure on participants' liver and kidneys.

  • Drink water after every alcohol-containing beverage to prevent dehydration.

  • Avoid taking medicines with alcohol.

  • Avoid drinking empty stomach and keep snacking if you drink for long hours.

  • Avoid a drink if you don’t know what t contains or if it’s mixed with energy drinks.

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Topics:  Alcohol Poisoning 

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