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Alcohol Poisoning First Aid
You know the drill. In case of emergency, you should immediately call emergency services or the paramedics, and follow directives from the emergency responder. But even though this is an elementary instruction, many people disregard the importance of professional medical help, especially when it comes to alcohol intoxication, thinking that they can fix the problem themselves.
It is very important to recognize the seriousness of alcohol over consumption as this can lead to alcohol poisoning. So what is alcohol poisoning? Alcohol poisoning occurs when a person drinks a large amount of alcohol over a short period of time. Typically, the liver can only process one standard drink per hour, so when someone over consumes alcohol, Blood Alcohol Concentration becomes so high that it can be fatal. Participating in drinking games or binge drinking heightens the risk of alcohol poisoning.
If you are with someone possibly experiencing an alcohol poisoning emergency, this guide is not created to replace emergency assistance. However, this could walk you through the steps you can follow to ensure that the person is kept safe.
How do I recognize the Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning?
When people, especially teens and college students, act intoxicated, the common reaction of the people around them is to laugh at them thinking that this is normal. If you are not aware of what the symptoms are of alcohol poisoning, you may just disregard a potential emergency.
So how do you know if someone is really suffering from alcohol poisoning? If you know that someone has been drinking a large amount of alcohol, here are some of the critical symptoms you should look out for.
- Mental confusion
- Repeated vomiting
- Slow or irregular breathing
- Excessive sweating
- Hypothermia or low body temperature
- Bluish, pale, or clammy skin
- Loss of coordination
- Coma / Unconsciousness
What do I do if I think someone has Alcohol Poisoning?
Stop them from Drinking
This may be obvious but if you notice that someone with you is already experiencing alcohol poisoning, put a halt on the drinking. This especially applies during drinking games. Do not encourage someone to keep on drinking “for fun’s sake”.
Immediately call for help
Once you suspect that someone is suffering from alcohol poisoning, do not wait another moment. Immediately call 911. Do not wait until all the symptoms above are present. Many teenagers hesitate to do this for fear of being caught underage drinking and this can be very risky. The short period of hesitation can be the difference between life and death. Someone suffering from alcohol poisoning can die in just under an hour so immediate help should be sought out.
Constantly monitor the person
People suffering from alcohol poisoning should not be left alone. If they are awake, keep them awake and in a sitting position. If they are unconscious, always check for their breathing. Let them stay in a safe area and keep them warm.
Know what you should NOT do
Many people think that they can treat alcohol poisoning on their own, without the help of professionals, however, this can only do more harm than good. When dealing with persons suffering from potential alcohol poisoning, avoid doing the following:
Don’t let them sleep it off
“He should just sleep it off…” This is commonly heard when someone is heavily intoxicated but this can actually be very dangerous because even if the person is passed out or seems to be sleeping, the alcohol blood concentration level can still rise. This is because alcohol in the stomach continues to enter the bloodstream. It is even possible for someone who is in acute alcohol poisoning to go into respiratory arrest while they are asleep.
Don’t let them walk it off
Another common misconception is that walking it off will reduce drunkenness, however, for people who have consumed a large amount of alcohol, their balance and coordination are already compromised. Having them walk around may just cause accidents.
Alcohol also slows down brain function that’s why people under the influence rarely think logically. This can even cause the person to act violently. The best thing to do is to keep the person in one safe area until emergency assistance arrives.
Don’t make them drink coffee
Giving coffee to a drunk person is very common to sober them up but not many people are aware that this is actually not safe. Coffee has caffeine which dehydrates the body so when combined with alcohol, this can lead to severe dehydration and even permanent damage to the brain. Instead of coffee, try to give them water to replace the water they lost.
Don’t place them under a cold shower
This is another method people use to shock and wake a person who is barely conscious. The problem with this is that a cold shower can lead to hypothermia because alcohol already lowers the body’s temperature. Doing so can make them feel colder.
Always remember, if you are with a person who looks like they are suffering from alcohol poisoning, CALL EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE immediately.