Excessive drinking can damage your health in a variety of ways, many of which are the result of long-term abuse to your body. However, in the short-term overdrinking can lead to alcohol poisoning which can be fatal if the symptoms spiral out of control. Knowing the symptoms of alcohol poisoning and when it is critical to get medical attention from the person suffering from these side effects to avoid serious danger.
Critical Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms
When someone is suffering from alcohol poisoning, the nerves which control involuntary actions become suppressed. This means things like the gag reflex or your ability to breathe will be jeopardized, which can result in choking, the patient losing consciousness or death. One of the most common dangers associated with alcohol poisoning is the patient being asphyxiated when they become sick due to the nausea commonly associated with becoming drunk. These side effects will continue to climb even if the person loses consciousness because alcohol will continue entering the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body. Common symptoms of alcohol poisoning include:
Respiration Trouble - The person's breathing may become shallow and scattered. There may be a 10 second gab between breaths or the person's breathing level can dip as low as eight breaths per minute. Due to the lack of oxygen getting into the bloodstream from this low breathing level the patient's skin may take on a blue or purple tinged and may be colder than usual.
Coordination Trouble - As the patient begins to feel the effects of alcohol poisoning their ability to control themselves may come into question. The person may have trouble walking or may frequently lose their balance. The patient's behavior may also become erratic at this point. Their emotional reactions may become predictable and the patient may begin to suffer from mood swings as the alcohol begins to affect the brain.
Alertness - The patient may seem to be in a confused stupor. They may say things that don't make sense or have trouble staying aware of what is going on around them. As their condition becomes worse the patient may also fall into a stupor where they do not react to stimuli around them. The patient may lose consciousness or suffer from seizures from which they cannot be roused. As the person's blood sugar is altered from the increasing flux of alcohol, the patient may suffer from hypoglycemia, which can cause the heart rate to drop in a way that could cause brain damage or death.
Nausea - People who have consumed too much alcohol frequently become nauseated and can vomit. Once the patient is suffering from alcohol poisoning the vomiting can become uncontrollable as the body desperately tries to rid the body of any alcohol that has not entered into the system yet. If the person is losing consciousness this uncontrolled vomiting increases the risk that this person could choke or have vomit enter into the lungs.
How Should I Help People with Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms?
When someone is suffering from alcohol poisoning it is important to do what you can to get them help as quickly as possible. Try to keep the person awake, starting with basic stimuli such as calling their name and moving to more extreme measures such as pinching their arms if necessary. Do not leave the person alone during this time as they can still easily lose consciousness, even if they have been roused multiple times.
If a person is having trouble staying awake it is important to regularly check their breathing. If they are breathing erratically or their breaths per minute falls below eight then it is important to get this person medical attention immediately.
Patients who are vomiting while suffering from alcohol poisoning should be watched carefully as this can cause a serious choking hazard. If they are awake, try to keep this person sitting up so they are less likely to choke as they throw up. If they are unconscious but continuing to vomit, then make sure they are lying on their left side. This will slow the cycle of alcohol entering the intestines and make it easier for them to get air into their lungs. A person lying on their left side will also be less likely to choke if they continue to throw up. Stay with them during this time to help make sure that vomit does not collect around the face, making it difficult for the person to breathe. Vomit near the nose and mouth can also be inhaled which can result in the fluid entering the lungs, which can be fatal.
If at any point someone in your group is suffering from uncontrolled vomiting or loses consciousness it is vital that you get medical attention for them right away. Call a poison control center or your local emergency medical response hotline to determine if the person should be taken to a hospital. Be prepared to divulge any information about how much alcohol this person has consumed and in what time frame. Be sure to be as specific and honest as possible as this can mean the difference between getting the person the medical help they need or the danger of the situation increasing. Even when emergency medical personnel are on their way, do not leave this person alone as they can still become injured.