Alcohol Poisoning: Deadly Serious

Reviewed Aug 26, 2016

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Summary

The amount of time and alcohol it takes to poison people’s bodies can vary, depending on their weight and size, tolerance for alcohol, how quickly they consume drinks, and the type of alcohol they are drinking.

Many of us are no strangers to alcohol and its effects. At one time or another, having one drink—or one too many—might have made you or someone you know happy, giddy, uninhibited, relaxed, tired, depressed, or even sick.

Fortunately, few of us learn firsthand the effects of alcohol poisoning. Like any drug, alcohol can be toxic, or poisonous, to those who overuse it or consume more than their bodies can handle safely.

Alcohol poisoning, or an alcohol overdose, results from consuming a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time. Also known as “binge drinking,” this practice remains a daunting problem on college campuses nationwide. Though research and survey results vary, it is estimated that approximately two out of five college students have engaged in binge drinking at least once.

The amount of time and alcohol it takes to poison people’s bodies can vary, depending on their weight and size; tolerance for alcohol; how quickly they consume drinks and the type of alcohol they are drinking; their level of fatigue and stress; and whether and how much they ate before drinking. Binge drinkers generally consume five or more standard alcoholic drinks in one sitting primarily for the purpose of getting drunk.

Once the intake of alcohol exceeds the body’s limit, a person can pass out. Excessive amounts of alcohol hinder the brain’s ability to control breathing. People with alcohol poisoning can slip into a coma, suffocate, or choke to death on food or their own vomit. Therefore, alcohol poisoning, like any other kind of poisoning, always should be treated as a medical emergency.

How do I know if it’s alcohol poisoning?

What if you are unsure whether someone has had a little too much to drink or actually been poisoned by alcohol? Look for the following symptoms of an alcohol overdose:

  • Slow or irregular breathing (fewer than eight breaths per minute, or 10 seconds or more between breaths)
  • Cold, pale, or bluish skin
  • Rapid pulse
  • Vomiting while awake or asleep
  • Unresponsiveness when spoken to, prodded, or pinched
  • Semi-consciousness or unconsciousness

If someone appears to have passed out from drinking, take it seriously. Don’t assume that the person is just “sleeping it off.” If you can’t awaken the person or get a response, call for medical assistance immediately—you could save a life.

While you’re waiting for help, do not leave the person alone. Stay close and turn the person on his side to prevent choking if vomiting occurs. Also, monitor breathing and perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation if breathing stops. Don’t try to sober the person up with something to eat or drink.

The best way to avoid alcohol poisoning is to control your drinking. If you are going to drink, know your limits and pace yourself. Avoid bingeing or drinking on an empty stomach. If you suspect that you or a friend has a drinking problem, acknowledge the problem and seek help before it’s too late.

By Anne Wright
Source: National College Alcohol Study Finds Significant Increase in Frequent Binge Drinkers, Harvard School of Public Health
Reviewed by Wendy Welch, MD, CHCQM, Federal VP/Medical Director, ValueOptions Federal Services Inc.

Summary

The amount of time and alcohol it takes to poison people’s bodies can vary, depending on their weight and size, tolerance for alcohol, how quickly they consume drinks, and the type of alcohol they are drinking.

Many of us are no strangers to alcohol and its effects. At one time or another, having one drink—or one too many—might have made you or someone you know happy, giddy, uninhibited, relaxed, tired, depressed, or even sick.

Fortunately, few of us learn firsthand the effects of alcohol poisoning. Like any drug, alcohol can be toxic, or poisonous, to those who overuse it or consume more than their bodies can handle safely.

Alcohol poisoning, or an alcohol overdose, results from consuming a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time. Also known as “binge drinking,” this practice remains a daunting problem on college campuses nationwide. Though research and survey results vary, it is estimated that approximately two out of five college students have engaged in binge drinking at least once.

The amount of time and alcohol it takes to poison people’s bodies can vary, depending on their weight and size; tolerance for alcohol; how quickly they consume drinks and the type of alcohol they are drinking; their level of fatigue and stress; and whether and how much they ate before drinking. Binge drinkers generally consume five or more standard alcoholic drinks in one sitting primarily for the purpose of getting drunk.

Once the intake of alcohol exceeds the body’s limit, a person can pass out. Excessive amounts of alcohol hinder the brain’s ability to control breathing. People with alcohol poisoning can slip into a coma, suffocate, or choke to death on food or their own vomit. Therefore, alcohol poisoning, like any other kind of poisoning, always should be treated as a medical emergency.

How do I know if it’s alcohol poisoning?

What if you are unsure whether someone has had a little too much to drink or actually been poisoned by alcohol? Look for the following symptoms of an alcohol overdose:

  • Slow or irregular breathing (fewer than eight breaths per minute, or 10 seconds or more between breaths)
  • Cold, pale, or bluish skin
  • Rapid pulse
  • Vomiting while awake or asleep
  • Unresponsiveness when spoken to, prodded, or pinched
  • Semi-consciousness or unconsciousness

If someone appears to have passed out from drinking, take it seriously. Don’t assume that the person is just “sleeping it off.” If you can’t awaken the person or get a response, call for medical assistance immediately—you could save a life.

While you’re waiting for help, do not leave the person alone. Stay close and turn the person on his side to prevent choking if vomiting occurs. Also, monitor breathing and perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation if breathing stops. Don’t try to sober the person up with something to eat or drink.

The best way to avoid alcohol poisoning is to control your drinking. If you are going to drink, know your limits and pace yourself. Avoid bingeing or drinking on an empty stomach. If you suspect that you or a friend has a drinking problem, acknowledge the problem and seek help before it’s too late.

By Anne Wright
Source: National College Alcohol Study Finds Significant Increase in Frequent Binge Drinkers, Harvard School of Public Health
Reviewed by Wendy Welch, MD, CHCQM, Federal VP/Medical Director, ValueOptions Federal Services Inc.

Summary

The amount of time and alcohol it takes to poison people’s bodies can vary, depending on their weight and size, tolerance for alcohol, how quickly they consume drinks, and the type of alcohol they are drinking.

Many of us are no strangers to alcohol and its effects. At one time or another, having one drink—or one too many—might have made you or someone you know happy, giddy, uninhibited, relaxed, tired, depressed, or even sick.

Fortunately, few of us learn firsthand the effects of alcohol poisoning. Like any drug, alcohol can be toxic, or poisonous, to those who overuse it or consume more than their bodies can handle safely.

Alcohol poisoning, or an alcohol overdose, results from consuming a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time. Also known as “binge drinking,” this practice remains a daunting problem on college campuses nationwide. Though research and survey results vary, it is estimated that approximately two out of five college students have engaged in binge drinking at least once.

The amount of time and alcohol it takes to poison people’s bodies can vary, depending on their weight and size; tolerance for alcohol; how quickly they consume drinks and the type of alcohol they are drinking; their level of fatigue and stress; and whether and how much they ate before drinking. Binge drinkers generally consume five or more standard alcoholic drinks in one sitting primarily for the purpose of getting drunk.

Once the intake of alcohol exceeds the body’s limit, a person can pass out. Excessive amounts of alcohol hinder the brain’s ability to control breathing. People with alcohol poisoning can slip into a coma, suffocate, or choke to death on food or their own vomit. Therefore, alcohol poisoning, like any other kind of poisoning, always should be treated as a medical emergency.

How do I know if it’s alcohol poisoning?

What if you are unsure whether someone has had a little too much to drink or actually been poisoned by alcohol? Look for the following symptoms of an alcohol overdose:

  • Slow or irregular breathing (fewer than eight breaths per minute, or 10 seconds or more between breaths)
  • Cold, pale, or bluish skin
  • Rapid pulse
  • Vomiting while awake or asleep
  • Unresponsiveness when spoken to, prodded, or pinched
  • Semi-consciousness or unconsciousness

If someone appears to have passed out from drinking, take it seriously. Don’t assume that the person is just “sleeping it off.” If you can’t awaken the person or get a response, call for medical assistance immediately—you could save a life.

While you’re waiting for help, do not leave the person alone. Stay close and turn the person on his side to prevent choking if vomiting occurs. Also, monitor breathing and perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation if breathing stops. Don’t try to sober the person up with something to eat or drink.

The best way to avoid alcohol poisoning is to control your drinking. If you are going to drink, know your limits and pace yourself. Avoid bingeing or drinking on an empty stomach. If you suspect that you or a friend has a drinking problem, acknowledge the problem and seek help before it’s too late.

By Anne Wright
Source: National College Alcohol Study Finds Significant Increase in Frequent Binge Drinkers, Harvard School of Public Health
Reviewed by Wendy Welch, MD, CHCQM, Federal VP/Medical Director, ValueOptions Federal Services Inc.

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