Addiction A-Z

Alcohol poisoning

Alcohol poisoning is a condition that occurs after drinking a large number of alcoholic beverages within a short period of time. People can die from alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning is usually the result of binge drinking, defined as downing five or more drinks quickly in a row, or by accidentally drinking household products such as mouthwash that contain alcohol. The amount of alcohol needed to cause alcohol poisoning varies by individual, and is related to factors such as the person’s weight, age, tolerance for alcohol, whether or not food has been consumed, drug usage and general health. Diabetes and other diseases can increase the likelihood of alcohol poisoning.

Symptoms are confusion, stupor, vomiting, seizures, slow breathing defined as breaths of less than eight per minute, gaps of more than ten seconds between breaths, blue or pale skin, low body temperature and unconsciousness. Alcohol poisoning occurs because alcohol depresses the nerves that control breathing, the rate of heartbeat and the gag reflex. If left without treatment, a person experiencing alcohol poisoning may have seizures, hypothermia, choke to death on vomit or die after inhaling vomit into the lungs. He or she may simply stop breathing and die, especially if left to “sleep it off.” This homemade remedy – as well as drinking coffee, taking a shower or taking a walk – will not help anyone with alcohol poisoning, and could prove fatal. A person experiencing alcohol poisoning should always have immediate medical attention.


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