December 7, 2023
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What is Alcohol Poisoning? How To Prevent And Treat It 

what is alcohol poisoning

Alcohol poisoning is a severe condition, which may become life-threatening. People drink alcohol to relax, celebrate or enjoy. Drinking alcohol in moderation is not a big concern. The high amount of alcohol intake in a short time may disturb your breath, heart rate, body temperature, and others, which results in death. Read the article throughout to consider the proper treatment and prevention steps if you have high blood alcohol levels. 

What is alcohol poisoning? 

Alcohol poisoning develops when a high amount of alcohol is found in your blood. It is also known as alcohol overdose. You may have alcohol poisoning if you drink a type of alcohol, such as wine, beer, or liquor in excess. Alcohol is released to your blood vessels after the stomach digests and absorbs it. This results in an increase in alcohol levels in your blood. Generally, your liver decomposes alcohol and keeps alcohol out of your bloodstream. When you have high blood alcohol levels, your liver becomes damaged and unable to eliminate enough toxic substances in a short period.

The additional alcohol in your bloodstream works as a depressant, which may disturb the functions of your brain and nervous system. Besides, it decreases the rate of the body’s functions, including breathing, blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature. 

Symptoms of alcohol poisoning 

You may have symptoms that may go from acute to chronic. These symptoms of alcohol poisoning include:

  • Confusion 
  • Delayed responses
  • Difficulty coordinating or walking
  • Skin becomes moist or turns bluish-colored
  • Decreased breathing (lesser than eight breaths per minute)
  • Disturbance or irregular heartbeat or long breaks between breaths (10 seconds or above)
  • Bladder problems or difficult-to-control bowel 
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Choking
  • Reduced body temperature
  • Seizures (a condition of uncontrolled electrical activity in your brain). 
  • High alcohol smell

How to analyze if a person has alcohol in their body?

Following are the two possible ways to confirm if someone has alcohol in their blood, which include

  • Breathalyzer: When you take alcohol, it goes to your lungs from your bloodstream. You breathe it out when it evaporates from your lungs. A breathalyzer is used to blow your breath into it. It indicates the amount of alcohol BAC (blood-alcohol content) available in the breath. 
  • Blood test: A healthcare provider may ask for a blood sample to see the level of alcohol. They will insert a small needle to collect the amount of blood samples to observe for the BAC (blood-alcohol content). This test provides more reliable results between six to twelve hours after you take the final drink. 

When do I need to contact a provider?

If a person, friend, or relative looks to have alcohol poisoning, call 911 as soon as possible. As early as they receive treatment, which will help to reduce the chance of severe damage to their brain and other body functions. Request an online healthcare provider to receive immediate medical consultation if you know someone who drinks a lot and wants help. 

Causes of alcohol poisoning 

Alcohol drinks include a type of alcohol called ethyl alcohol or ethanol. This substance is very toxic to others, including methanol (wood alcohol) or isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol). Getting high deposition of alcohol leads to alcohol poisoning. Binge (a duration for an excess specific activity) drinking happens for a man when you take five or above drinks within 2 hours. If you are a woman, binge drinking results from taking four drinks within the same duration. 

The alcohol in your blood expresses into a percentage to show how much alcohol you have. You will have a high BAC if you drink faster than usual. When you have high BAC, it may impair (damage) the body’s function, such as breathing. 

Risk factors for alcohol poisoning  

A high risk for alcohol poisoning is found in most men and middle-aged adults. These are the risk factors for alcohol poisoning, which may be seen in you that include:

  • Weight
  • The ability to tolerate alcohol
  • General Health
  • Intake of drugs
  • The quantity and time interval of taking a drink
  • The amount of alcohol in your drink

The Emergency of alcohol poisoning

You can note down the following guidelines if you see someone with you have alcohol poisoning, which includes:

  • Call 911 immediately for assistance.
  • Stay with the person.
  • Try to keep them awake.
  • Put a water sip when they are awake.
  • Give and cover them with a warm blanket.
  • If they lose consciousness, shift their position to their side. So, when they vomit, they cannot choke (stop breathing) on it. 
  • Speak and inform them about the actions you are taking for them.

You will need to inform what steps you took for the person when the emergency team reaches. You may also need to tell the person’s condition since you called 911. 

Treatment of alcohol poisoning  

When you take heavy amounts of alcohol, your healthcare provider may drain your stomach. It helps to stop the alcohol from going into your bloodstream. When the person visits the hospital, these treatments may also be provided to you that include:

  • Giving fluids with the use of an IV (intravenous)
  • Providing additional oxygen using a nasal cannula to take breathe
  • Cleaning of the stomach containing toxins using a tube
  • Removing the toxins from your blood. If your kidneys cannot filter the blood, providers may use dialysis to clear alcohol from your blood.  

Prevention of alcohol poisoning  

You need to note the amount of alcohol and how fast you take it at any place. As you should know what levels are moderate for you or your friends. If a person or friends get high amounts of alcohol quickly, you may need to stop and put restrictions on their drink.

You should need to consider these steps of prevention if you have the desire to drink alcohol to reduce your risk of alcohol poisoning:

  • Keep hydrated: Take water after you drink alcohol.
  • Do not drink while gaming:  You may experience high pressure if you are playing games, which will urge you to drink a high amount of alcohol without realizing it.
  • Moderation: Ideal drink for men is not more than two times a day and for women one time a day.
  • Avoid alcohol with medicine: When you take any prescription medication, you should not drink alcohol.
  • Take food first: Avoid drinking alcohol when your stomach is empty or before taking food.
  • Try to keep alert: If the ingredients or substances in your drink are not known to you, leave that drink. 

What happens to you from alcohol poisoning?  

Alcohol is complicated and life-threatening. Excess amount of drinking may result in:

  • Hypoglycemia (a condition of low sugar levels in your blood). It can lead to seizures. 
  • Hypothermia (decreased body temperature)
  • Loss of consciousness may result in death in no time. 
  • Blackouts
  • Extreme vomiting may result in dehydration, seizures, and brain damage permanently. 
  • Disturbance in the heartbeat


Taking alcohol in moderation can be considerable. But when you have a habit of drinking high amounts of alcohol that cannot be controllable, it will result in alcohol poisoning. You should limit the intake of alcohol to eliminate the risk of developing certain medical conditions. Get help from an online doctor if you want treatment for your alcohol problem.

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