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Alcohol Poisoning And What Steps To Take
Alcohol poisoning, or alcohol overdose, occurs when someone consumes an excessive amount of alcohol within a short amount of time. As a depressive substance, alcohol slows down nerves responsible for important, involuntary functions like breathing and the gag reflex. Knowing the signs and steps to take in the event of alcohol poisoning prevents further damage and saves lives.
Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning
You can spot the signs of alcohol poisoning well before an individual passes out. While a person may stop drinking, alcohol does not stop circulating throughout the bloodstream, with symptoms presenting themselves shortly after a binge. Always stay vigilant for the following signs, and never assume that they go away with sleep:
- Loss of awareness.
- Slow and reduced breathing.
- Bluish or pale skin.
Consequences of Untreated Alcohol Poisoning
All signs of alcohol poisoning deserve serious consideration and monitoring as a number of problems occur if they remain overlooked or ignored. These problems include, but are not limited to:
- Irregular and stopped heartbeat.
- Slow, irregular, and stopped breathing.
- Reduced body temperature, or hypothermia.
- Reduced blood sugar, or hypoglycemia. This warrants special concern as hypoglycemia may lead to seizures.
- Choking on vomit.
- Dehydration from excessive vomiting.
- Brain damage.
Steps to Take
If the Person is Conscious and Responsive:
- Stay with the person and watch for the symptoms listed above.
- Make sure the person does not lie on his or her back. It is safer for the person to lie on his or her side.
- Refrain from giving the person any medication, food, or beverages, including water.
- Warm the person with a blanket and let him or her know that you are there to help. A conscious person showing the signs of alcohol poisoning likely loses awareness of his or her awareness and may act fearfully or aggressively.
If the Person is Not Responsive and Either Fully Unconscious or Partially Conscious:
- Try waking the person by pinching the skin and slightly raising your voice.
- Avoid having the person lay on his or her back. Take the person’s arm that is closest to you, raise it above his or her head, and gently roll the person towards you. Keep the head from hitting the floor and ensure the person rests on his or her side, with the head tilted up to keep the airway open. Use the hand closest to the cheek as a form of support, keeping the person’s face off the floor while you continue monitoring.
- Always stay with the person while waiting on help. The situation may require CPR.
- Call 911 for emergency care.
Uptown Emergency Room provides proactive, modern medical treatment to address the signs of alcohol poisoning and complications that follow. Alcohol poisoning constitutes a serious medical emergency and cannot be treated at home. If you are located within the Dallas area, call us at (214) 217-1818.