People drink alcohol for a variety of different reasons. For some people it is a way to cope with emotions, while for others it is a way to enhance their good mood and have a good time. Whatever the reason, when a person drinks excessive amounts of alcohol, it can poison his or her system.
Most often, this will happen when the individual consumes excessive amounts of alcohol within a relatively short amount of time. Because alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, consuming too much can cause the brain to depress certain body functions such as the gag reflex and breathing. When this happens it can result in a number of health problems that range from vomiting to death. The real threat is that alcohol poisoning can continue even after a person has stopped drinking. This is due to the fact that blood alcohol levels continue to rise, even if drinking has caused the person to pass out. Although some people may never come into contact with someone with alcohol poisoning, it is safest to understand and recognize what it is so that help can be given if needed.
Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning
Alcohol poisoning is a serious and potentially deadly condition. In order for the person to receive the help that is needed, those around him or her must be able to recognize the signs and symptoms that are associated with it. One of the most important and telling signs is a loss of consciousness and failure to awaken when prompted. A person with alcohol poisoning may also have other signs as well. These signs include vomiting, taking less than eight breaths per minute, irregular breathing with large gaps between breaths, confusion, lower than average body temperatures, and skin that has gone pale or blue-tinged. It is important for people to understand that not all of these signs need to be present for a person to have alcohol poisoning.
What to Do If Someone is Suffering From Alcohol Poisoning
The worst thing that a person can do if they suspect that someone has alcohol poisoning is to do nothing. Although waiting is the only thing that can be done to sober up after moderate drinking, people who are at risk of alcohol poisoning are in extreme danger due to the fact that there is a delay between when the alcohol is consumed and when the alcohol is absorbed. Waiting because a person has stopped drinking does not stop the alcohol from leaving the individual’s intestine or stomach, nor does it prevent it from entering the bloodstream. Because there are life-threatening complications that can occur with alcohol poisoning, immediate action is of the utmost importance. When attempting to help a person that may have alcohol poisoning, never leave him or her alone. This is particularly true if the individual is unconscious as the risk of vomiting and choking is high. Regardless of whether a person is conscious or not, at the first signs of alcohol poisoning contact local emergency medical services or 9-1-1 as quickly as possible. Try to keep him or her awake and sitting upright. If the person is unable to sit upright, he or she should lay down on one side. Medical personnel will need information about what the person has been drinking and how much. Make note of this information, even if a person has been drinking products that contain high amounts of alcohol other than alcoholic beverages, such as cold medicine.
Dangers of Alcohol Poisoning
It is important to understand the dangers of alcohol poisoning and the benefits of prompt medical treatment. If left untreated, a person may potentially suffer from irreparable brain damage or even die. One of the threats associated with alcohol poisoning that can lead to either death or brain damage include the risk of choking on one’s own vomit while unconscious. If this should occur, he or she is likely to suffocate as a result. If the person with alcohol poisoning is conscious but vomiting he or she may not choke from it, but runs the risk of becoming dehydrated. Dehydration can become so severe that it requires treatment. When no treatment is given, the dehydration can cause a person to suffer seizures, brain damage, or death. Other dangers associated with alcohol poisoning include hypothermia, or low body temperature, and low blood sugar, which is called hypoglycemia. A person’s breathing and/or heart rate can become too slow or irregular and may eventually stop altogether.