Having a night out with friends and going to a bar or club probably a fun time on a Saturday night and drinking all night long would be a nice way to end the weekend. What if during this exhilarating night, you saw someone collapsed out of sudden on the dance floor with visible white foams near the person’s mouth? You probably panicked and called 999 for help as this could be due to excessive drinking. Excessive drinking has been the mainstay for alcohol poisoning and we will be elaborating more in this DoctorOnCall’s article.
Alcohol poisoning usually happens when a person drinks a high amount of alcohol especially in a short period. This causes alcohol to be toxic in the body and ultimately a dangerous poison. Alcohol can be in forms of ethanol (existed in alcoholic beverages, mouthwash, cough medicine and perfume) , methanol (known as wood alcohol and often used in production of cheap counterfeit alcoholic beverage) and isopropanol (active component in “alcohol swab” used as antiseptic). Knowing signs and symptoms may help a person with alcohol poisoning to get treatment immediately:
Sign and symptoms of alcohol poisoning:
- extreme behaviour changes often see as reckless behaviour and road accidents
- extreme mood changes such as unpredictable mood swings and losing emotional control such as extreme feeling of anger, sadness, anxious and depression
- headache and dizziness
- pinpoint pupils (abnormal very small pupil)
- double vision (diplopia); seeing two images of a single object
- blurry vision and sensitive to light or glare (photophobia)
- slurred speech or slow speech (dysarthria)
- memory loss (amnesia)
- conscious but not responsive and unaware of surrounding
- sudden collapsed and being unconscious
- inability to walk or stand properly (disturbed gait and balance)
- abdominal pain
- low blood pressure (hypotension)
- low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia)
- severe dehydration sign such as decreased skin turgor (pulling of the skin and the skin does not retain normally or taking long time), dry mouth and lips
- vomiting happen because alcohol is an irritant to the stomach and it is a way for body to eliminate it
- hematemesis or vomiting blood
- lung aspiration due to choking on vomits
- skin feels cold and pale bluish skin due to low body temperature (hypothermia)
- difficulty to breath or slow breathing
Since the sign and symptoms can vary according to the person’s health level, level of alcohol in the person’s body and time of the alcohol affecting the body starting from the consumptions, bringing a person suspected of alcohol poisoning to the emergency room as soon as possible may help reduce risks of complications. Complications can be permanent brain damages, alcoholic liver diseases such hepatitis and liver failure, abnormal heart rhythm, heart failure and stroke. If a person does not get the early treatment, complications can get severe and may cause death.
Beside calling for help by dialling 999 and request an ambulance, there are other way you can help if you suspect a person with alcohol poisoning while waiting for help to arrive:
- You can try keeping them awake and positioning them in a sitting position, making sure they are warm by covering them in a blanket or jacket and never letting them be by themselves or letting them “sleep it off” by keeping them accompanied.
- If the person is able to drink, give them sips of water to help reduce the alcohol effect.
- If the person has already passed out, make sure they are lying down on their side to avoid lung aspiration and check for breathing signs.
- Do not try to “sober them up” by giving coffee or putting the person under a cold shower as these methods may cause more dangers. Take multivitamins for better health.