7 Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning and How To Treat Alcohol Poisoning
With a dubious name like “alcohol poisoning” some may equate the condition to a minor digestive disturbance similar to that caused by eating tainted food. In spite of that bit of wordplay intended to lessen the negative stigma of alcoholic overdosing and keep sales of the legal, yet restricted, substance from plummeting, the truth is this: Alcohol poisoning is a form of overdose. It is incredibly dangerous and often lethal. With the assistance of the Mayo Clinic, learn to recognize the symptoms and save a life- possibly your own.
This may seem like a standard side effect of drunken foolishness, but confusion is one of the early symptoms of alcohol poisoning. The effects of alcohol on the brain cause inhibition and carelessness and, in large doses, disorientation, lack of coordination, and delusions.
Vomiting is the body’s natural reaction to the abundance of a harmful substance. It attempts to purge itself of toxins by emptying the stomach of its contents. Do not dismiss a person vomiting after alcohol consumption as simply “having a bit too much” as that person may asphyxiate (or suffocate) if left unsupervised.
Often referred to as getting “blackout drunk,” unconsciousness as one of the symptoms of alcohol poisoning is a silent danger. Though no outward symptoms may be visible, internal damage to the brain, heart, or lungs can cause a victim to fall unconscious leaving bystanders unaware of the impending dangers.
Unlike simple unconsciousness, a victim of alcohol poisoning who experiences seizures- regardless of the existence of previous conditions- will cause alarm among witnesses and is likely to prompt notification of emergency responders. However seizures are among the more dangerous symptoms caused alcoholic overdosing. Seizures may be caused by neurotoxicity, damage to the brain, or shock.
5. Slowed or Irregular Breathing
This symptom may not be readily obvious to untrained observers until it reaches dangerous levels. If a person takes less than eight breaths in a minute or more than 10 seconds elapses between breaths it is a sign of lung trouble and medical attention should be sought immediately.
6. Blue or Paleness of skin
Changes in the skintone of someone suffering from the symptoms of alcohol poisoning may give life-saving indications concerning their condition. Alcohol consumption constricts the blood vessels in the body. A lack of blood flow or oxygen in the blood supply to the skin will cause paleness or a blue tinting. Do not ignore this. Lack of oxygen or blood to the skin is a good indication of the oxygen levels and blood flow within the body.
7. Hypothermia (Low Body Temperature)
Shivering, coolness to the touch, and confusion may indicate the onset of hypothermia, a sign that the body is losing its ability to regulate body temperature. Hypothermia is extremely dangerous as it causes organ failure, shock, and death. If this symptom is present, do not attempt to submerge the victim in hot water, as the extreme temperature difference will exacerbate the condition.
How Can I Help?
If you suspect someone is suffering from alcohol poisoning, do not wait for multiple symptoms to develop. Some people will not experience multiple symptoms; the time wasted can put their lives in danger. Alcohol poisoning is ALWAYS an emergency and 911 should be contacted immediately. Be prepared to give the dispatcher as much information as you can as honestly as possible- avoiding trouble with your parents or significant other is not worth someone else’s life. Never leave an unconscious person by themselves and attend to those who are vomiting to prevent choking and loss of consciousness.
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About the Author
Alexandrea Holder is a South Florida native working toward double Master’s degrees in Psychology and English. She finds the psychological aspects of addiction and mental illness fascinating, as both are prevalent in her family’s history. When not researching and spreading addiction awareness, Alexandrea enjoys sparring, artistic pursuits, and admiring puppies online.