Alcohol poisoning occurs when a person consumes an excessive amount of alcohol. Alcohol can depress or stop nerve signals that control breathing and the gag reflex that prevents choking; alcohol poisoning is a serious condition that can lead to irreversible brain damage or death if not treated immediately.
Signs of alcohol poisoning include:
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• Vomiting. An unconscious person could choke and suffocate from vomiting.
• Passing out, coma, or inability to awaken the person.
• Slow breathing-fewer than 8 breaths per minute.
• Irregular breathing-10 seconds or more between breaths.
• Low body temperature (hypothermia), bluish skin, and paleness.
The level of alcohol in the blood continues to rise even after a person stops drinking. It can take around 30 to 90 minutes for the alcohol to enter the bloodstream, circulate throughout the body, and cause full intoxication. The amount of time depends on how quickly and how much the person drank along with what else is in the stomach.
Drinking coffee, walking or sleeping it off, or taking a cold shower will not help reverse the symptoms of alcohol poisoning. Immediate medical treatment is always needed if you suspect alcohol poisoning.
Call 911 or other emergency services if you or someone else:
• Has the symptoms of alcohol poisoning. These can include vomiting, coughing up blood, gasping for breath, passing out, and seizures.
• Has a history of heavy drinking and is having severe withdrawal symptoms but is not willing to get treatment.
• Has delirium tremens (DTs), which can lead to death. Symptoms can include seizure, shaking, a fast heartbeat, and seeing or hearing things that aren’t there (hallucinations).
• Is thinking or talking about suicide or harming others.
Alcohol poisoning is a serious, life-threatening condition that needs to be treated immediately. If you suspect that you or someone else is suffering from alcohol poisioning, don’t wait – contact a healthcare professional or 911 immediately.