What is Alcohol Poisoning?
When talking about binge drinking, heavy drinking, alcoholism, or really anything that involves booze, the phrase alcohol poisoning gets thrown around. It’s become a sort of catchall term to refer to an individual who’s very drunk. Unfortunately, this isn’t what alcohol poisoning really is.
Alcohol poisoning, also known as acute alcohol poisoning, is when an individual’s blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeds a certain level. Although there’s no agreed upon cutoff, it’s generally around .30% BAC that potentially fatal alcohol poisoning symptoms begin to occur.
Acute alcohol poisoning occurs because the liver can only metabolize around one drink of alcohol per hour. All subsequent drinks aren’t processed by the liver and end up directly in the bloodstream.
It’s for this reason that alcohol poisoning is linked directly to binge drinking. Now, before we go any further, let’s look at common acute alcohol poisoning symptoms. After all, we need to be able to tell if someone’s consumed too much liquor before we’re able to offer any alcohol poisoning treatments.
Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms
Find various alcohol poisoning symptoms below:
• Confusion and disorientation
• Extreme motor skills impairment
• Blue and clammy skin
• Central nervous system depression
• Respiratory depression (defined as fewer than eight breaths per minute)
• Decreased heart rate
• Positional Alcohol Nystagmus (jerky and unpredictable eye movement)
• Periods of unconsciousness (short or extended)
• Vomiting (while conscious and unconscious)
• Seizure (due to hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar)
If you’re with someone who’s exhibiting the above liquor poisoning symptoms, it’s important to take immediate action. Don’t wait; seek help right then and there!
Alcohol Poisoning Treatment
There are a lot of urban myths about how to sober someone up. Unfortunately, they’re called myths for a reason – they don’t work!
If someone is exhibiting the above alcohol poisoning symptoms, don’t give them coffee or put them in a cold shower. Don’t feed them bread or let them sleep it off.
Call 911. The only way for the body to recover from alcohol poisoning is to metabolize and process the alcohol. Seen in this light, alcohol poisoning treatment becomes more about supportive care than reversal of symptoms.
Find common medical alcohol poisoning treatments below:
• Monitoring to prevent breathing and choking issues
• Oxygen therapy
• IV fluid replacement
• IV vitamin and glucose replacement
Having explored medical alcohol poisoning treatments, let’s turn our attention to what you can do to help someone suffering from alcohol poisoning and exhibiting symptoms of liquor poisoning symptoms!
How YOU Can Help Someone with Acute Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms
First and foremost, don’t give them coffee, let them sleep it off, put them in a cold shower, or any of the many myths surrounding excessive drinking!
Not only are these myths useless, but some are extremely dangerous. Letting someone “sleep off” alcohol poisoning can easily result in them falling into a coma or choking on their vomit.
If you suspect someone has alcohol poisoning, don’t wait around to check all their symptoms. Call 911 right away! This is by far the most helpful thing you can do.
Also, be prepared to give paramedics information about the person’s alcohol consumption. How many drinks did they have? How quickly were the drinks consumed? What alcohol were they drinking? Did they take any other substances?
After calling 911, don’t leave the person alone. It’s dangerous to leave someone displaying alcohol poisoning symptoms alone. They may hurt themselves, pass out, or choke on their own vomit.
Give them water, if possible, and place them on their side. This is known as the recovery position and places less strain on the heart. It also prevents them from vomiting and choking.
Alcohol poisoning doesn’t have to be deadly! Do your part to turn a dangerous situation into a manageable one!