Drinking too much alcohol can lead to a life-threatening condition known as alcohol poisoning. Alcohol is a depressant. Drinking a toxic amount (a)lcohol overdose can seriously depress the body’s involuntary nervous system — which controls your heart rate, breathing, and body temperature.
If you suspect alcohol poisoning, call 9-1-1, as this is a medical emergency that can quickly lead to death. At Dignity Health, we provide immediate care to diagnosis the symptoms of alcohol poisoning in Arizona, and respond with fast, effective treatment.
Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms
The symptoms of alcohol poisoning can include:
- Irregular breathing — more than 10 seconds between breaths
- Very slow breathing — less than eight breaths in a minute (c)alled depressed respiration
- Loss of consciousness or passing out
- Paleness or a bluish tint to the skin, nails, or lips
- Mental confusion or stupor
If one or more of these symptoms are present, call 9-1-1 immediately. Very slow breathing can lead to serious complications. Alcohol poisoning can cause brain damage, coma, and death. Toxic amounts of alcohol can cause the heart to stop, breathing to stop, hypothermia, or seizures. A person can also die by choking on their own vomit (c)aused when the gag reflex does not work.
Alcohol Poisoning Causes
The primary cause of alcohol poisoning is drinking very large amounts of alcohol in a short time — this is known as binge drinking. Even if a person stops drinking and passes out, the alcohol overdose can be so great that the body continues to absorb alcohol from the stomach and intestines. This causes blood alcohol levels to continue rising, even while the person is unconscious.
Alcohol Poisoning Treatment & Prevention at Dignity Health
Treatment for alcohol poisoning requires emergency medical care. For more severe cases, a person with alcohol poisoning may need the support of a ventilator to help with breathing until the body safely removes the excess alcohol.
If you have called 9-1-1 for someone suspected of having alcohol poisoning, stay with the person until help arrives. If vomiting occurs, try to prevent choking. Position the person’s body on the side and not the back.
How to Prevent Alcohol Poisoning
Prevention against alcohol poisoning starts with understanding the risks of alcohol use. Knowing the symptoms of poisoning can mean the difference between life and death. The safest thing to do is drink responsibly and educate others to do the same.
Research has shown that underage drinkers typically consume five drinks at a time, making them the highest at-risk group. For adult women, moderate drinking is one drink per day and two drinks per day for men. Emergency health care professionals at Dignity Health provide immediate diagnosis and treatment for alcohol poisoning in Arizona.