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Alcohol poisoning: What is it?

The body can only digest about 1 unit of alcohol per hour.

When a person consumes a dangerous amount of alcohol, usually within a short period, alcohol poisoning ensues. Alcohol poisoning can harm your health or possibly endanger your life.

It’s essential to steer clear of alcohol abuse and to be conscious of how much you’re consuming and any potential health side effects that come with it.

The factors that play in role in how alcohol poisoning affects different people include a person’s age, sex, size, weight, rate of consumption, amount of food consumed, general state of health, and whether they have used any drugs or medications.

Alcohol poisoning can cause vomiting (with a danger of choking), a heart attack, or a fit, or it can stop your breathing. It can also lower your body temperature, putting you at risk for hypothermia. Common causes, symptoms, safe practices, and ways to assist are all mentioned below.

The Mechanism of Alcohol Poisoning

Your liver is required to remove alcohol from your blood after each drink. However, the body can only digest about 1 unit of alcohol per hour, even though alcohol is absorbed into the body quicker than food. Your body won’t have time to metabolize large amounts of alcohol during a short period, such as on a night out at the bar.

Impacts of Alcohol Timeline

Approximately 1-2 units

  • Your heart rate will rise, and your blood vessels will enlarge.
  • You experience the confident, amiable mood that comes from moderate drinking.

Around 4–6 units

  • Your judgment and decision-making abilities will begin to suffer, causing you to become impulsive and reckless.
  • Your neurological system’s cells will start to be impacted, resulting in dizziness.
  • Your coordination will be compromised, and you risk having reduced reaction times.

Around 8–9 units

  • Your reflexes will be considerably slower.
  • You’ll have slurred speech
  • Your vision will start to blur.
  • You probably will wake up with a hangover because your liver can’t get rid of all the alcohol in one night.

10–12 units

  • Because of the severe impairment to your coordination, you run a significant chance of being in an accident.
  • You might wobble or feel unsteady on your feet.
  • You’ll experience fatigue or vertigo.
  • Your body’s alcohol levels will start to rise to dangerous levels.
  • As your body tries to quickly pass the alcohol out of your body in your urine, You will have to go to the bathroom more often.
  • You’ll likely have a terrible headache and be severely dehydrated in the morning.
  • Consuming much alcohol could irritate your digestive system and cause indigestion, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Over 12 units

  • Alcohol poisoning is a severe concern for you, especially if you consume a lot of teams in a short time.
  • Alcohol can affect your body’s basic processes, including respiration, heart rate, and gag reflex.
  • You run the danger of passing out.

Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms And Warning Signs

Remember that someone with alcohol poisoning won’t be able to help themselves. Knowing the symptoms and what to do could save their life. Understanding the difference between enjoying a few drinks with friends and an alcohol use disorder is essential. Just because someone may have had several alcoholic beverages, this is not always a solid sign that they are suffering from alcohol poisoning. If you are concerned about a loved one, learn the most common symptoms of alcohol abuse to understand better what you are looking for and get them help. Observable symptoms and signs include:

Some symptoms begin mildly and get worse over time. Alcohol poisoning symptoms include:

  • Alcohol-like odor
  • Slurred or confused speech
  • Lack of balance or stumbling
  • Clammy or wet skin

There are some more severe signs of alcohol toxicity. These typically include:

  • Extreme fuzziness
  • Struggling to stay awake
  • Making vomit
  • Seizures
  • Breathing slowly (per minute fewer than 8 minutes)
  • Long pauses in breathing (10 seconds or more)
  • Incredibly slow heartbeat
  • The body’s low temperature
  • Skin that is pale or blue
  • Delayed reactions (such as gag reflex)

Complications of Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol poisoning can, in extreme situations, result in issues like:

  • Choking on one’s feces
  • Vomit in your lungs is causing breathing difficulties.
  • Extremely dehydrated
  • Hypothermia
  • Brain damage
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Fatal heart attack
  • Head spinning

Causes of Alcohol Poisoning

Ethyl alcohol, sometimes known as ethanol, is a kind of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages. It is this that results in alcohol poisoning. Some of the others you could have around the house, such as methanol (wood alcohol) and isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol), are harmful in different ways.

Alcohol toxicity is commonly caused by binge drinking. When a man binges, he consumes five or more alcoholic beverages in less than two hours. Four alcoholic drinks are consumed in the same amount of time for women. Binge drinking that is “extreme” destroys twice as much.

One beverage is:

  • 12 ounces of 5% alcohol beer
  • 5 ounces of 12% alcohol wine
  • 80-proof alcohol weighing 1.5 ounces

Limits For Recommended Alcohol

To lessen your risk of alcohol poisoning causing harm to your health if you drink frequently:

  • If you often consume more than 14 units of alcohol per week, men and women are encouraged to space out their drinking over three days or more.
  • An alcoholic beverage equals:
  • a half-pint of lager, beer, or cider with an alcohol content of 3.6%
  • a single tiny shot (25ml, 40% ABV) of liquor

Treating Alcohol Poisoning

Medical professionals may “pump” your stomach if you’ve consumed risky amounts of alcohol. This prevents any alcohol overdose and disease control that may be left over from entering your bloodstream.

Additionally, medical professionals at a treatment center can:

  • Give you liquids via an IV.
  • Provide you the additional oxygen to aid in breathing
  • Clear toxins from your stomach.
  • Toxins out of your blood

Avoiding Alcohol Poisoning

Keep these suggestions and instructions in mind if you plan to drink alcohol to prevent alcohol poisoning:

  • Drink responsibly. Men should limit their daily alcohol intake to two drinks, while women should limit their intake to one.
  • Drink nonalcoholic beverages in between alcoholic ones, preferably water.
  • Never drink while you are hungry.
  • Avoid drinking while using prescription pharmaceuticals or other drugs.
  • Avoid using beer bongs, funnels, or other intoxication devices.

Additional Guidance and Details

The US Chief Medical Officers suggest limiting how much you drink on any given occasion and never binge drinking to minimize short-term dangers (including alcohol poisoning, accidents, or injury).

Men and women should limit their weekly alcohol consumption to no more than 14 units spread across three or more days with several drink-free days, according to the United States (US) Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What are the five signs of alcohol poisoning?

– Confusion is one of the indications and symptoms of alcohol poisoning.
– Vomiting
– Seizures
– The breath slowly (per minute less than eight breaths)
– Abnormal breathing 

What does it mean when you have alcohol poisoning?

Alcohol poisoning is a severe and occasionally fatal side effect of consuming a lot of alcohol consumed too rapidly can cause problems with your breathing, heart rate, low body temperature, and gag reflex and possibly cause a coma and even death. 

Find Help for Alcohol Poisoning at The Haven

An alcohol use disorder can result in severe consequences on the body, such as alcohol poisoning. Individuals experiencing alcohol abuse and withdrawal symptoms must seek professional help as soon as possible to prevent further damage to their bodies and minds. At The Haven, we understand the many challenges of overcoming an addiction and are dedicated to providing patients with care, compassion, and respect throughout their recovery. 

Our team assesses all patients to create an individualized program that best matches everyone’s specific needs. From detox and residential care to medication-assisted treatment and aftercare support, The Haven is here with you every step of the way. Recover in a safe, secure, and comfortable environment in our state-of-the-art facility. 

If you or a loved one is battling addiction, we are here to help. Contact our admissions counselors, who are available 24/7 to answer your questions at (561) 328-8627

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