Signs of Alcohol Poisoning to Watch Out For

A number of common indicators of drunkenness can actually be signs of alcohol poisoning

Signs of Alcohol Poisoning to Watch Out For

Alcohol poisoning, which happens when someone drinks a large portion of alcohol in a short amount of time, can be difficult to distinguish from the signs of ordinary drunkenness — like physical impairment, confusion, dehydration, and vomiting. All of these are indicators of alcohol poisoning, too, and if left untreated, can lead to coma, brain damage, and death.

Whether you’re celebrating the Fourth of July, a wedding, or any other social event, it’s important to keep in mind some of the risks involved in social drinking so that you can proceed safely and responsibly. 

Blue-Tinged or Pale Skin

Hypothermia, or low body temperature, can be detected if someone who has been drinking suddenly becomes pale, or their skin turns blue. Hypothermia is quite dangerous, as body temperatures below 95 degrees F can disrupt the function of your heart, nervous system, and other organs. If untreated, hypothermia can lead to heart failure and death.

Confusion or Stupor

Look out for impairment of someone’s speech, memory, and judgment, as this can make them more dangerous to themselves and others. In some people, confusion as a result of excessive alcohol consumption is coupled with aggression.

Dehydration

Alcohol is a diuretic, so it inherently dehydrates you. Severe dehydration can happen as a result of binge drinking as well as vomiting, and can lead to rapid heart rate and dangerously low blood pressure. 

Irregular Heartbeat

The longer an alcohol poisoning victim goes untreated, the greater the risk of permanent impairment or death. If someone’s heart is beating irregularly from drinking, it could be moments away from stopping entirely. 

Seizures

Drinking to excess may lead to hypoglycemia, also known as low blood sugar. Severe hypoglycemia can lead to dizziness, light-headedness, and seizures.

Slow or Irregular Breathing

If someone’s breathing is particularly slow (fewer than eight breaths per minute) or irregular (10 seconds or more between breaths), they have become significantly impaired. 

Unconsciousness

Alcohol poisoning can cause some people to lose consciousness and become unable to be roused. Call for medical help and do not leave this person alone, as he or she may choke on his or her own vomit while unconscious, which could lead to death by asphyxiation.

Vomiting

Not only is an alcohol poisoning victim likely to vomit, they are also at risk of choking on their own vomit. The brain controls automatic responses like the gag reflex. Alcohol, meanwhile, is a depressant that hinders the brain’s ability to control these responses. 

Complications to Note

Choking on vomit as the result of a dulled gag reflex, low blood pressure from severe dehydration, and asphyxiation from inhaling vomit are just a few of the many complications that can result from alcohol poisoning. If symptoms are left untreated, a person suffering from alcohol poisoning can experience permanent brain damage, even if they survive.