Alcohol poisoning is the result of drinking too much alcohol in too little time. As a general rule, it’s best to avoid drinking more than one drink per hour. The consequences of alcohol poisoning are severe and can even be deadly.
Why is alcohol poisoning so dangerous?
Alcohol poisoning can:
- Slow down brain functions that control breathing and heartbeat
- Cause vomiting while also affecting gag reflex, which can cause someone to choke on their own vomit
- Lower body temperature
- Cause severe dehydration, which can result in permanent brain damage
- Lower blood sugar levels and cause seizures
- Result in death
What are some signs someone is suffering from alcohol poisoning?
They will exhibit one or more of these signs:
- Confusion and disorientation
- Cold and clammy skin
- Difficulty staying awake or conscious
- Diminished physical coordination, i.e. inability to walk
- Irregular pulse and depressed breathing
- Choking or having a hard time breathing
- Loss of bladder and/or bowel control
- Blue-tinged skin, especially around mouth and fingers
What do I do if I think someone has alcohol poisoning?
If you notice any of these symptoms, don’t wait to take action. CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY and NEVER LEAVE THEM ALONE.
While waiting for emergency services to arrive, follow these other steps:
- Do your best to keep the person awake
- Keep talking to the person and inform them of what you are doing, what’s happening, etc.
- Keep the person sitting upright if possible
- If they are unconscious and laying down, put them on their side with their hands above their head to keep them from choking if they vomit
- Get them to slowly drink water if they are awake and conscious
- Be prepared to provide information to emergency personnel like how much they’ve consumed in how long, any medications they may be on, what happened and any other details you may have
Is there anything I should avoid doing with a person experiencing alcohol poisoning?
Things NOT to do:
- Give them coffee or anything else with caffeine in it
- Give them food
- Give them any medications or drugs
- Try to get them to throw up
- Walk the person around to “get them to wake up”
- Give them a cold shower
- Let them “sleep it off”
- Leave them alone
- Allow them to drink any more alcohol
Remember, if you suspect that someone is suffering from alcohol poisoning, immediately call 911 no matter the circumstances. Their life
depends on it.
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