Alcohol poisoning might develop if an individual ingests large amounts of alcohol such as wine, beer or liquor in a short span of time. As the level of alcohol in the bloodstream rises, the liver could not break down the alcohol and eliminate the toxins from the blood rapidly enough.
The surplus alcohol functions as a depressant and causes regions of the brain controlling vital bodily functions to shut down.
Who are at risk?
Alcohol poisoning is likely to occur among middle-aged adults and men. The condition can also affect the elderly detrimentally due to fluctuating body chemistry. In addition, older individuals are likely to be using prescription drugs that do not mix well with alcoholic beverages. Other potential factors include depression and stress.
What are the signs?
The indications of alcohol poisoning typically include:
- Confusion or disorientation
- Strong scent of alcohol
- Cold, clammy skin
- Poor coordination and/or inability to walk
- Bluish-tinged skin especially around the lips or beneath the fingernails
- Erratic pulse and/or slow heart rate
- Fecal and/or urinary incontinence
- Difficulty staying conscious
- Semi-consciousness or loss of consciousness
- Erratic breathing and slow breathing
What should I do?
If an individual displays signs of alcohol poisoning, call for emergency assistance right away.
While waiting for the emergency team to arrive, the following must be done:
- Do not leave the individual alone even if he/she is conscious and talking. Even though the individual has stopped drinking, any alcohol lingering in the stomach can enter the bloodstream that can worsen the condition.
- Talk with the individual. Inform him/her what you are doing or else he/she might react aggressively.
- Make sure that the individual is awake and sitting if possible.
- Encourage the individual to sip water if conscious.
- Use a warm blanket to cover the individual. The condition can cause the individual to feel cold.
- Turn the individual carefully onto his/her side if unconscious. In case vomiting occurs, choking can be prevented. Position a cushion in the small of their back to keep on his/her side.
More Information / Disclaimer
The information posted on this page on alcohol poisoning is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize the signs and how it is managed by taking a standard first aid course with Red Deer First Aid.