Alcohol poisoning might seem like a young person’s problem, but it affects more than college students. In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 75.7% of deaths caused by alcohol poisoning were adults ages 35 to 64—significantly more than their college-age counterparts. It’s a population-wide issue, and it’s happening a lot with six alcohol poisoning deaths occur per day, on average. Keep in mind the 7 critical symptoms of alcohol poisoning whenever you’re drinking.
If you or a loved one tends to overindulge in alcohol, reach out to the alcohol addiction treatment center in Worcester, MA before experiencing the trauma of alcohol poisoning.
What Is Alcohol Poisoning?
Alcohol poisoning occurs when someone drinks a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time. It often accompanies binge drinking, which is defined by sustained or heavy drinking. That’s about four drinks for women and five drinks for men in a two hour period. One alcoholic drink is:
- 12 ounces of beer
- 8 ounces of liquor
- 5 ounces of wine
- 11/2 ounces (approximately a shot) of distilled liquor (gin, rum, tequila, whiskey, vodka)
Four or five beers may not seem like much, but your liver would disagree. The liver can only metabolize one serving of alcohol per hour. Drinking more than that can quickly lead to dangerously high blood alcohol levels (BAC levels) before any physical signs of inebriation are obvious. That’s why it’s critical to recognize the symptoms of alcohol poisoning as soon as possible.
Alcohol poisoning can also present itself if someone ingests too much ethanol from household cleaners or another source, though this is rare. A sudden influx of alcohol in the bloodstream creates a toxic effect that can be fatal. Immediate medical attention is crucial for anyone presenting symptoms of alcohol poisoning.
7 Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning
A person’s blood concentration continues to rise even if the person is passed out. That means you may not notice all of these signs of alcohol poisoning right away, but don’t wait to seek medical attention. Even one of these symptoms of alcohol poisoning is enough to be concerned.
1. Decreased Body Temperature
Alcohol dilutes the concentration of oxygen in the blood, which is why you might notice blue-tinged lips or pale skin on someone who has alcohol poisoning. These are early signs of hypothermia, where the body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
Alcohol pulls water from the body’s cells, leading to system-wide dehydration. Severe dehydration can cause a number of serious health concerns, including brain damage.
Alcohol affects the nervous system, which can mean the gag reflex shuts down. This puts someone with alcohol poisoning at a greater risk of choking.
4. Irregular Breathing
An impaired nervous system can also affect heart rate and breathing. Because alcohol slows down the nervous system, breathing can become slower-than-normal. In extreme cases, the body may stop breathing completely.
5. Loss of Coordination
It doesn’t take much alcohol for the nervous system to slow down. Besides cutting off the gag reflex and slowing down breathing, this can also impact normal brain function and reaction time. It’s the primary reason drinking and driving is a life-threatening combination.
6. Low Blood Sugar
Alcohol provides energy from calories, but it does not provide nutrients. Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach can greatly increase the chances of experiencing low blood sugar. If blood sugar levels get too low, they can lead to seizures.
Alcohol in any amount can upset the stomach. Too much alcohol can be very taxing on the digestive system. This equals:
Vomiting can be especially dangerous if someone with alcohol poisoning has lost their gag reflex.
When Someone Shows Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning: Do’s and Don’ts
If you notice someone experiencing any one of the distress signals above, call 9-1-1 immediately, and follow these precautions:
- Keep them awake
- Make them drink water unless they’ve lost the function of their gag reflex
- Lay them on their side if the person is unconscious
- Keep them warm with blankets and additional clothing to prevent hypothermia
- Monitor their symptoms of alcohol poisoning and breathing pattern
To reduce the risks from alcohol poisoning do not do any of the following:
- Let them fall asleep – Monitoring their condition becomes increasingly difficult
- Feed them coffee or other substances to keep them awake – This worsens dehydration
- Move them around too much – You risk the person vomiting
- Put into a cold shower – Their body temperature may decrease drastically
Preventing Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning
The best way to prevent symptoms of alcohol poisoning is to drink responsibly—or not at all. It’s essential to recognize alcoholism for the dangers it causes.
Suffering from alcohol addiction is not uncommon and does not make someone any less fun or sociable. It can, however, threaten their life. If you or someone you know has experienced alcohol poisoning symptoms, contact Washburn House. We have a program that’s right for you and your experience with alcohol abuse. Treatment may involve:
- Alcohol detox program in Massachusetts
- Men’s or women’s alcohol rehab in MA
- Residential or intensive outpatient program
- Extended care addiction treatment in Worcester
- Dual diagnosis treatment
Give us a call at 855.298.3104 today, and we’ll create a customized plan so you can continue to enjoy your life without risking it.