Every year, approximately fifty thousand people are diagnosed with alcohol poisoning in the United States. Poisoning occurs when a person’s blood alcohol content reaches a high level, and it causes the central nervous system to shut down. Some people who suffer poisoning die as a result of asphyxiation by vomit.
There are many factors that contribute to a person’s blood alcohol level, including how quickly your body metabolizes the alcohol, how strong the drink is, how quickly it’s consumed, how much (or little) food is in the person’s stomach, and how much alcohol has already been consumed.
The body usually gives signals that too much alcohol has been ingested before poisoning occurs.
These signals include:
- nausea and vomiting
- poor reflexes
- difficulty breathing
- difficulty waking the person
- blue-tinged or pale skin
- seizures are symptoms of alcohol poisoning.
For sufferers of poisoning by alcohol, one of the things that increases risk of death is lack of immediate assistance. People see someone who’s showing symptoms of poisoning and interpret them as simply being drunk instead of actual poisoning. Never assume that someone will “sleep it off” or is sleeping because he or she is tired.
How To Help
- If you are with someone who has passed out from alcohol intake, the first step is to try and wake them.
- If you have difficulty waking them, you should immediately call 911 (999 in UK) and ask for assistance.
- If you know or suspect the person has also ingested drugs, be sure to tell the medical personnel.
- Someone who has been drinking heavily should also be monitored at all times. Those with alcohol poisoning can stop breathing or asphyxiate themselves accidentally, so there should always be someone nearby to watch them.
Taking someone home and putting them to bed is a nice gesture, but can actually be more dangerous if there’s not someone there to keep an eye on them.
- If you have reason to suspect that someone is suffering from poisoning, you should put them in the recovery position, also known as the lateral recumbent position to keep them from asphyxiating. Simply roll the person from his or her back to the side, making sure the mouth is downward to prevent suffocation.
When someone dies from alcohol poisoning it’s a tragedy. However, it’s a tragedy that could sometimes be prevented if people knew more about the risks associated with heavy drinking, as well as what to do if they suspect someone is suffering from poisoning.
With a little more knowledge and by paying more attention, maybe some of the fifty thousand yearly US and over eight thousand UK deaths could be prevented.