What is Alcohol Poisoning?

Alcohol Poisoning is an extremely serious and at times fatal consequence of binge drinking or in other words drinking alcohol in excess within a short span of time. If an individual consumes too much alcohol in too little time it not only affects the general functioning of the body it can have some serious complications to include breathing difficulties, problems with heart rate, fluctuating body temperature, and abnormal gag reflex which may potentially prove to be fatal for the individual.

At times, Alcohol Poisoning can occur in children or adults when they accidentally or knowingly consume certain products which have alcohol in it. Alcohol Poisoning is an emergent medical condition and an individual suffering from it needs to be taken to the nearest emergency room for timely treatment to prevent complications from Alcohol Poisoning.

What Causes Alcohol Poisoning?

What Causes Alcohol Poisoning?

The most common form of alcohol found in the usual alcoholic beverages like beer, whiskey, rum, or vodka is chemically known as ethyl alcohol. It is also present in some types of mouth washes, cooking extracts, and certain medications. Alcohol Poisoning results from consuming too much alcoholic beverages in a short span of time. The main cause of Alcohol Poisoning though is binge drinking or drinking excessively usually five or more drinks of alcohol within a short span of time, normally in an hour or so.

The effects of an alcohol binge can last for hours to days at a time depending on the amount of alcohol taken and whether the drinks were mixed or only one form of alcohol like a beer or whiskey was taken. Even after an individual has stopped drinking, alcohol keeps on being released from the stomach and the intestines into the blood increasing the blood alcohol levels alarmingly. It should be noted here that alcohol is absorbed by the body very rapidly and it takes quite a lot of time for the alcohol to be eliminated from the body.

Majority of the alcohol is metabolized by the liver. The more drinks that an individual consumes, the more are the chances of Alcohol Poisoning. In numerical values one drink of alcohol is equivalent to 12 ounces of regular beer, 9 ounces of malt whiskey, 5 ounces of wine, and 1.5 ounces of hard liquor.

The chances of an individual having Alcohol Poisoning magnifies if the individual mixes the drinks and consumes it in excess as mixed drinks take even longer to metabolize and get eliminated from the body than a normal drink of alcohol.

What are the Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning?

The symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning are:

  • Confusion
  • Altered mental state
  • Severe vomiting episodes
  • Seizures
  • Slow and irregular of breathing
  • Bluish discoloration of the skin
  • Hypothermia
  • Unconsciousness.

How is Alcohol Poisoning Diagnosed?

Apart from the visible symptoms that an individual presents with to the emergency room, a blood alcohol level will likely be drawn by the physician along with other tests to check for alcohol toxicity like hypoglycemia. These tests along with the symptoms are good enough to confirm the diagnosis of Alcohol Poisoning.

Treatment of Alcohol Poisoning

The best way to treat Alcohol Poisoning is by providing supportive care and monitoring the symptoms closely while the body gets rid of the alcohol by itself. Supportive care includes apart careful and close monitoring of the symptoms, prevention of any complications that might occur like breathing problems or choking, providing oxygen so that oxygen levels in the body are maintained, and fluids given intravenously as alcohol sucks away all the fluids from the body and can cause severe dehydration.

Sometimes, vitamins and glucose are also given to prevent any complications from Alcohol Poisoning. In cases where people or children have accidentally consumed other forms of alcohol like methanol may require dialysis to clean out the alcohol from the body and treat Alcohol Poisoning.

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Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: June 22, 2017

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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