Alcohol poisoning occurs after drinking too much and too fast, until the point where blood alcohol level reaches a dangerous level. The person becomes unconscious and can even go into a coma and die. By such severe reactions, this kind of poisoning differs from a normal hangover. The abnormal high Blood Alcohol Level (BAL) affects the nervous system, and heartbeat.
Signs and Symptoms
Drinking too much and too fast can lead to the following alcohol poisoning symptoms:
- Unconsciousness or semiconsciousness, mental confusion;
- Slow and irregular breathing rhythm of 8 or less per minute;
- The body eliminates a strong odor of alcohol;
- Vomiting as the stomach is irritated by alcohol;
- Cold and pale skin.
Factors that influence the effects of alcohol
Not everybody gets intoxicated and poisoned from the same amount of alcohol. There are factors that influence the speed of alcohol metabolism. In other words the rate of metabolism is about 8.5 g of alcohol per hour but this varies among individuals depending on factors like:
Weight – The more you weigh, the more water is present in your body, which dilutes the alcohol and lowers the blood alcohol level;
Age – One drink raises the blood alcohol level of an older adult 20% more than it does for a young adult;
Sex – Women’s tissues have less water and more fat than men’s bodies. Alcohol does not go into fat cells so women tend to retain more alcohol in their blood;
The number of drinks per hour – As you increase the number of drinks per hour, your blood alcohol level steadily increases;
Food in your stomach absorbs some of the alcohol; in this case the alcohol concentration will be higher if you do not eat before or during drinking;
Tolerance to alcohol – a person who has a high tolerance needs more amounts of alcohol to rich the same concentration of alcohol as a person with a low tolerance;
Other medication in combination with alcohol emphasizes the perception of alcohol in the body. Also, a person who uses other drugs, such as marijuana, will feel the effects of both drugs more than if the drugs were used separately.
Being poisoned with alcohol is not a joke. That’s why it is vital to watch drunken persons carefully or even call an ambulance. Be sure to follow these guidelines:
- Don’t leave them unsupervised; lie them down on a side – in case they are vomiting, they wouldn’t choke with their vomit or tongue and die;
- Don’t let them sleep it off, as they may pass away;
- Wake them up frequently, even though they sleep, the level of BAL still raises up and intoxicates the body;
- Keep them warm;
- Don’t give them anything to eat or drink;
- Do not give them cold showers, as the temperature shock may be fatal;
- If their skin is pale or cold, call an ambulance;
If they have less than 8 breaths per minute or more than 10 seconds between breaths, call an ambulance.