This condition is due to drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short time. It is serious and can be deadly. Here's what to do in an emergency.
Alcohol poisoning is a serious — and sometimes deadly — result of drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time. Drinking too much too quickly can affect breathing, heart rate, body temperature and gag reflex. In some cases, this can lead to a coma and death.
Alcohol poisoning also can occur when adults or children accidentally or intentionally drink household products that contain alcohol.
If you think that someone has alcohol poisoning, get medical attention right away.
Alcohol poisoning symptoms include:
It's not necessary to have all the above symptoms before seeking medical help. A person with alcohol poisoning who has passed out or can't wake up could die.
If you think that someone has alcohol poisoning, seek medical care right away. This is true even if you don't see the usual signs.
Here's what to do:
It can be hard to decide if you think someone is drunk enough to need medical help. But it's best to take action right away rather than be sorry later. You may worry about what will happen to you or a friend or family member, especially if underage. But the results of not getting help in time can be far more serious.
Alcohol in the form of ethanol, also called ethyl alcohol, is in alcoholic beverages. It's also in mouthwash, some cooking extracts, some medicines and certain household products. Ethyl alcohol poisoning generally results from drinking too many alcoholic beverages in a short period of time.
Other forms of alcohol can cause toxic poisoning that requires emergency treatment. They include:
A major cause of alcohol poisoning is binge drinking. 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.
A person can consume a fatal dose of alcohol before passing out. Even when the person is unconscious or stops drinking, the stomach and intestines continue to release alcohol into the bloodstream, and the level of alcohol in the body continues to rise.
Unlike food, which can take hours to digest, the body absorbs alcohol quickly — long before most other nutrients. And it takes a lot more time for the body to get rid of alcohol. Most alcohol is processed by the liver.
The more you drink, especially in a short period of time, the greater your risk of alcohol poisoning.
Here's what one drink means.
But the amount of alcohol in one drink may be much higher than those in the list above. For example, some craft beers may have four times the amount of alcohol that's in a regular beer. Alcohol content is displayed on the label. Or you can ask the server about alcohol content. Be aware of the alcohol content of what you're drinking and adjust how much you drink based on this knowledge.
Mixed drinks may contain more than one serving of alcohol.
Several factors can increase your risk of alcohol poisoning, including:
Severe complications can result from alcohol poisoning, including:
To avoid alcohol poisoning:
In addition to checking for visible signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning, your doctor will likely order blood and urine tests to check blood alcohol levels and identify other signs of alcohol toxicity, such as low blood sugar.
Alcohol poisoning treatment usually involves supportive care while the body rids itself of the alcohol. This typically includes:
People who accidentally consume methanol or isopropyl alcohol may need hemodialysis. This is a mechanical way of filtering waste and toxins from the blood. It can speed the removal of alcohol from the blood.
Home remedies for alcohol poisoning won't work. Alcohol poisoning is an emergency situation.
You can't reverse the effects of alcohol poisoning, and you could make things worse through some actions. Here's what doesn't work: