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Alcohol Poisoning: Symptoms, Causes, Complications, and Treatment

Alcohol intoxication occurs when a person drinks an excess of alcohol in one period. In general, the CDC considers “moderate” drinking to be no more than one drink a day for women, and no more than two drinks a day for men. Binge drinking, then, is defined as having four or more drinks on one occasion for women and five or more drinks on one occasion for men. Most people who binge drink consume an average of eight drinks per binge, though. It’s a myth that a person can recover from alcohol intoxication by sleeping, taking a cold shower, going for a walk, or drinking black coffee or caffeine. In fact, doing these things can put an intoxicated person at greater risk of injury and death.

  • Not only does this cause a lack of physical coordination, which can cause falls or other accidents, but it also contributes to alcohol-induced nausea and vomiting.
  • Too much alcohol affects your speech, muscle coordination and vital centers of your brain.
  • As a general rule, the more alcohol you drink, the more likely you are to have a hangover the next day.
  • These methods cannot remove excess alcohol from the body and, therefore, cannot reduce the effects of alcohol poisoning.
  • We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals.

Rapid drinking can bring BAC so high that mental and physical functions are negatively affected. If BAC is high enough, it can impair physical functions such as breathing and the gag reflex (that prevents people from choking. Experiencing even a single incidence of alcohol poisoning could suggest that your drinking https://ecosoberhouse.com/ behavior is problematic and a cause for concern. Frequent episodes of problematic drinking and high BAC levels could increase the likelihood of alcohol addiction developing. The best way to reduce your risk is to keep your alcohol consumption low or consider non-alcoholic beverages as an alternative.

As Blood Alcohol Concentration Increases—So Do the Risks

One of the main concerns for people who lose consciousness is the risk of choking on their vomit and dying from a lack of oxygen or the lungs becoming damaged from aspiration, Dr. Farmer says. A telltale sign that a person is unconscious and not just asleep is their inability to be woken, per the Mayo Clinic, in which case, you want to seek immediate medical attention. Alcohol toxicity causes the body’s communication system to slow, which can also slow down other vital functions like breathing. When this happens, your body might go from taking 12 to 20 breaths per minute to less than eight breaths. Irregular breathing, in which a 10-second or more gap between breaths occurs, is also a possibility.

The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. Serious complications such as brain, lung, and heart damage, and even death can occur. It is wise to speak to teenagers and college students about the dangers of drinking alcohol warning signs of alcohol poisoning and binge drinking. Alcohol use among adolescents is fairly common, ranging from 3.5–32% of 8–12th graders in the United States. These age groups are among the highest risk population for binge drinking and may not have experience with the effects of alcohol, making them more likely to overdrink.

Factors of Alcohol Poisoning

People cannot treat severe alcohol intoxication — or alcohol poisoning — at home. If anyone shows signs of severe intoxication, contact emergency services immediately. The symptoms of alcohol intoxication range from mild to severe, depending on how much alcohol a person consumes and how quickly their body metabolizes it.

what are the signs of alcohol poisoning

It’s important to be aware that binge drinking, or having 5 drinks for men or 4 drinks for women within a period of two hours, can cause a BAC that is higher than 0.08%. This is when a male rapidly consumes five or more alcoholic drinks within two hours or a female consumes at least four drinks within two hours. An alcohol binge can occur over hours or last up to several days. If someone is experiencing any of the above symptoms during or after drinking alcohol, a person should call 911 or get them emergency medical care. A high percentage of blood alcohol can cause the areas of your brain that support breathing, heart rate, and other critical functions to begin shutting down. Approximately 50,000 people in the United States visit the emergency department each year due to accidental CO poisoning.

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