What is alcohol overdose?
Many people who drink alcohol do so because of its relaxing effect. Aside from that, drinking is another social experience that can be healthy. It will cease to be healthy if it is consumed in large amounts. When it is actually ‘overused’ and over ‘present’ in the body, it becomes what is called alcohol overdose. You can call it alcohol poisoning, too. It can promote untold health complications.
If you have taken an overdose of alcohol or someone you know has, call the emergency line – 911.
What causes an alcohol overdose?
Alcohol is a drug. Yes or yes. As a drug, it has a great influence on your central nervous system. It’s classified as a depressant. As a depressant, it affects anything called an organ in the body.
It will affect your speech by slowing it. Body movements are also slowed when the body has so much alcohol that it can break down.
Alcohol undergoes quick absorption in the stomach and small intestine as it enters the bloodstream. More alcohol therefore means more alcohol present in the body.
The liver is the center point where alcohol is detoxified. There is a particular amount of alcohol that your liver can take at a time. Because of this limitation of the liver, any excess alcohol is carried through the blood to other organs.
Despite the fact that you won’t break-down alcohol at the same rate as mine, only one unit of pure alcohol per hour can be metabolized at once. One Unit of Pure Alcohol per Hour is equivalent to one-third of an ounce. Let me further explain this. One unit of pure alcohol per hour means a third of a glass of wine, a small liquid shot, or half a pint of beer.
What are the risk factors for alcohol overdose?
The following list gives a run-down on what might be responsible for alcohol overdose:
- binge drinking – consuming more than 5 drinks in less than an hour
- age – very prevalent in young adults
- body size – the smaller your body size, the faster you will experience an alcohol poisoning
- gender – men are more likely to suffer from alcohol poisoning
- Drug use can trigger alcohol overdose because it makes you not experience the side effects. So you keep drinking and drinking until you become poisoned.
- tolerance – a very good example is playing drinking games
What are the symptoms of an alcohol overdose?
Symptoms of an alcohol overdose include:
- pale skin
- low body temperature – hypothermia
Since alcohol is a depressant of the nervous system, serious complications can often result from its overdose. Such complications include:
slowrate of breathing
- slow heart rate
- extremely slow gag reflex – a contraction of the back of the throat
- cardiac arrest due to low body temperature
- seizures due to low blood sugar
You might not have all these symptoms. But a typical symptom that should raise an alarm is slow breathing rate – when the rates of breathing is not up to 8 breaths per minute or when you can’t be up from your sleep. That’s when a call to 911 will be very important.
When you perceive that someone who has taken too much alcohol has become unconscious, do not leave him alone.
If such person vomits, place him on his side. You should do this because gag reflex can be suppressed by overdose of alcohol. He could choke to death if he is allowed to lie on his back in that unconscious state. If he inhales his vomit, his breathing can be stopped altogether.
Ensure you don’t leave him until he receives medical help.
How is an alcohol overdose diagnosed?
If you have an overdose of alcohol, you will be asked by your doctor questions that have to do with your health history and drinking habits. Additional tests which include a blood or urine test will be carried out on you to check your glucose level. Your glucose level will be low if you have alcohol poisoning. Glucose will be seen in your blood or urine if the alcohol overdose has destroyed your pancreas. Your pancreas digests your food and helps to monitor your blood glucose.
How is an alcohol overdose treated?
An alcohol overdose will be attended to in an emergency room. Your vital signs, that is, your heart rate, body temperature, and blood pressure, will be checked and monitored.
If your symptoms include seizures, the following treatments will be required:
- intravenous fluids medications
- oxygen therapy – artificial oxygen intake via a mask connected to your nose
- thiamine and glucose supplements to prevent brain damage
- antiepileptic medications – to put an end to your seizures
What is the long-term outlook for alcohol overdose?
Complications arising from an alcohol overdose are a function of how severe the alcohol has poisoned you and how fast you.
Permanent brain damage can occur if you have seizures repeatedly when oxygen flow to the brain is limited.
But if your symptoms don’t include seizures, you will have a promising outlook.
How can you prevent an alcohol overdose?
You can definitely not have an alcohol overdose if you limit your alcohol intake. You could consider taking just one drink per day or not taking it at all. You should not be ashamed to get help if you have issues with drinking.
Talk to your loved ones and children about the risks involved in alcohol and its overdose. The Mayo Clinic has conducted a survey, found out that open communication really helped teens from abstaining from alcohol.