Alcohol poisoning or acute alcohol intoxication is a serious consequence of drinking a toxic amount of alcohol in a short period.
What is alcohol poisoning?
Alcohol poisoning is a severe and life-threatening effect of drinking excessive amounts of alcohol quickly. Drinking large amounts of alcohol can rapidly affect one’s heart rate, breathing, body temperature, and gag reflex. These can lead to coma and even death. Alcohol poisoning is serious and needs prompt medical attention.
Alcohol poisoning by the numbers
In the United States, at least six people die from alcohol poisoning each day. About 76% of all alcohol poisoning cases are among adults with an age range of 35 to 64 years. About 76% of all deaths from alcohol poisoning occur among men.
Causes of alcohol poisoning
Binge drinking or drinking alcohol in excessive amounts over a short period is the major cause of alcohol poisoning.
In women, binge drinking happens upon taking four drinks within two hours. In men, binge drinking happens upon consuming more than five alcoholic drinks within two hours.
In terms of amount, one drink is defined as 12 ounces of regular beer (5% alcohol), 9 ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol), and 5 ounces of wine (12% alcohol). For hard liquor, one drink measures 1.5 ounces of 40-percent alcohol.
Signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning
The major signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning include:
Cold, clammy, pale or bluish skin
Loss of consciousness
Slow or irregular breathing
The other signs and symptoms include:
Low body temperature
Stupor (conscious but unresponsive)
If alcohol poisoning is left untreated, the following can happen:
Slow and irregular breathing, which may stop eventually
Choking on vomit due to reduced gag reflex
Low blood sugar, which may lead to seizures
Slow and irregular heart rate, which may stop eventually
Severe dehydration from vomiting may cause seizures, coma, and death.
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