Alcohol Poisoning

What is Alcohol Poisoning?

Alcohol poisoning occurs when your body has too much alcohol. It causes your brain to shut down. This is also known as alcohol overdose.

Alcohol can cause depression. It can cause your brain and nervous system to malfunction, slowing your breathing and heart rate.

The liver is responsible for keeping alcohol’s toxins out of your bloodstream. Your liver might not be able to keep up with your alcohol consumption if you consume a lot of alcohol in a short amount of time.

Brain damage and even death can result from alcohol poisoning. 

Signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning

Some symptoms are mild, while others can become more severe. These are signs of alcohol poisoning:

  • Smelling like alcohol
  • Confusion and slurred speech
  • Poor coordination and stumbling
  • Damp or clammy skin

Alcohol poisoning can cause more severe symptoms. These symptoms include:

  • Extreme confusion
  • It isn’t easy to stay awake
  • Tossing up
  • Long, lingering pauses between each breath (10 seconds or longer)
  • Very slow heartbeat
  • Low body temperature
  • Bluish or pale skin
  • Slow responses (e.g. gag reflex)

Alcohol poisoning complications

Alcohol poisoning can lead to serious problems such as:

  • Choking on your vomit
  • Trouble breathing because of vomit in your lungs
  • Severe dehydration
  • Hypothermia
  • Brain damage
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Heart attack
  • Death

Causes of Alcohol Poisoning

Ethyl alcohol, also known as ethanol, is a type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages. This is what causes alcohol poisoning. Other types of alcohol you may have around your house, such as isopropyl alcohol or rubbing alcohol, are also toxic.

Alcohol poisoning is often caused by binge drinking. Binge drinking refers to consuming five or more drinks in a short period. It’s four drinks for a woman at the same time. Extreme binge drinking can result in twice the amount.

One drink is:

  • Twelve ounces beer (5% alcohol).
  • 5 oz. Wine (12% alcohol).
  • 1.5 ounces 80-proof liquor

Factors that increase the risk of alcohol poisoning

The highest chances of alcohol poisoning are in middle-aged adults and men. Women tend to drink more alcohol than men. Middle-aged people are more likely to use prescription drugs than those in their twenties, which could increase your chances of getting alcohol poisoning.

You can also get alcohol poisoning from these things:

  • Your weight or size
  • Your overall health
  • Your alcohol tolerance
  • What was the most recent time you ate food?
  • No matter if you are using drugs
  • How fast and how much you drink
  • How much alcohol are you drinking?

Urgent Action for Alcohol Poisoning

These steps can be taken if you suspect that someone you are with is suffering from alcohol poisoning:

  • Call 911 immediately.
  • Please do not leave them alone.
  • Keep them awake and seated upright.
  • If they are awake, have them drink water.
  • Wrap them in a blanket.
  • To prevent them from vomit poisoning, you can get them to their side if they aren’t feeling well.
  • Inform the paramedics of their symptoms and what they have consumed.

These are not things to do. These things may cause more harm than good:

  • Give the person a cold bath to lower their body temperature
  • They can be choked if they are given food.
  • It would help if you did not ask them to “walk it off,” as this could result in a fall.
  • It would be best not to make them throw up as this could cause choking.

Alcohol Poisoning Diagnosis

Based on your symptoms, your doctor may diagnose alcohol poisoning. To check your alcohol levels, they may order urine and blood tests.

Alcohol Poisoning Treatment

Doctors may “pump” your stomach if you have consumed dangerous amounts of alcohol. This prevents any alcohol leftover from entering your bloodstream.

They may also be:

  • Fluids via an IV
  • Extra oxygen for better breathing
  • Your stomach full of toxins
  • Eliminate toxins from your blood

Alcohol Poisoning Prevention

These tips will help you avoid alcohol poisoning if you drink alcohol:

  • Be careful. Men should limit their intake to two drinks per day, while women should have one.
  • Alternate non-alcoholic beverages, ideally water, with alcoholic drinks.
  • Do not drink with an empty stomach.
  • Prescription medications and other drugs should not be taken with you.
  • Do not drink or use funnels, beer bongs, or other drinking games.


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