First, you should know that alcohol poisoning should never be treated at home without first seeking medical attention and/or advice. However, many people tend to confuse alcohol poisoning with drinking too much. Alcohol poisoning, in clinical terms, means having high levels of alcohol in the blood that causes grave damage to major organs in the body. It can lead to death. Consequently, it is important that you ascertain those toxic levels are not reached and this means getting the person to a hospital immediately.
In order to determine whether the person is suffering from alcohol poisoning, you first need to establish whether the intoxicated person can be roused from his/her drunken stupor. Should it prove impossible to bring that person to wakeful semblance, you should call for immediate medical assistance. Do not assume the person is okay and allow him/her to sleep so that the effects wear off. That, as a matter of fact, could be the worst decision ever! The next thing to do is confirm whether s/he ingested any illegal/legal drugs. Statistics show that most alcohol poisoning cases are caused when a person takes some drugs then, soon after, drinks alcohol.
Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms
- Confusion, stupor
- Slow breathing i.e. each minute having less than 8 breaths
- Blue-tinged or pale skin
- Irregular breathing i.e. having a 10 second gap between breathes.
However, you should not wait for all the symptoms to manifest for you to seek medical attention. If the person is unconscious and cannot be woken up, they are at a high risk of dying.
Alcohol Poisoning Treatments
Treatment of alcohol poisoning involves giving supportive care as the body gets rid of all the alcohol. Children and adults who have consumed isopropyl or methanol alcohol by accident may require kidney dialysis. This is a mechanical process in which toxins and waste are filtered from your body's system to speed up alcohol removal from your bloodstream. Other medical treatments are:
- Oxygen therapy
- Careful monitoring
- Dehydration prevention by giving fluids intravenously (via a vein)
- Using glucose and thiamin
Alcohol poisoning is a potentially dangerous and serious condition. Natural remedies can work, but if the patient is experiencing disrupted breathing, uncontrollable vomiting, or you cannot wake him/her, seek medical attention immediately.
- Keep warm: Blood vessels' functioning is restricted by excessive alcohol amounts in the bloodstream thereby causing hypothermia. So, you must keep the affected person warm with a coat or warm blankets.
- Avoid choking: A person who is intoxicated risks chocking in his/her own vomit, more so when unconscious. Avoid choking by having the person lie sideways. That way, the airways will open and not get clogged. However, vomiting is in some way considered effective in preventing excess alcohol from getting absorbed.
- Monitor the victim closely: A person suffering from alcohol poisoning needs close monitoring because the poisoning may lead to a coma; you should keep them awake. You should also monitor the person's breathing to ensure it is not disrupted. The patient can sleep once the symptoms have eased, but you should still continue monitoring them.
- Flush out the alcohol: You can do so by giving the person a lot of fluids. After a while, the person will start making frequent short calls, and in the process s/he would empty their bladder frequently.
- Drink lots of Water: Drinking a lot of water will help the person empty his/her bladder frequently thus reducing the amount of alcohol in the body. What's more, the water will also help keep the person hydrated throughout the whole process.
- Provide nutritional supplements: Give the person who has suffered alcohol poisoning nutritional supplements like milk thistle, which will help his/her liver detox. Vitamins B-complex also helps the body recover from the heavy drinking.
Warnings for Helping People with Alcohol Poisoning
If you know someone who might be suffering from alcohol poisoning-even if s/he does not have the symptoms listed above, seek immediate medical care. If it is an emergency case, here is what to do:
If s/he is unconscious:
- Do not leave them alone: this is because the person may choke in their vomit.
- Do not force them to vomit: alcohol poisoning has been known to affect the working of your gag reflex. In the process of vomiting, the person may accidentally aspirate (inhale) vomit in their lungs thus causing fatal injury to their lung(s).
If s/he is conscious:
- If you reside in USA, call 800-222-1222 so that you will be routed to the nearest center for poison control. That way, you will be given instructions on what to do to the inebriated individual and whether the person should be taken to hospital immediately. All calls are confidential.
- Inquire for information: Ask the person how much alcohol s/he has taken & when. Also, ask whether s/he had taken any medication prior to drinking. This information will prove important when taking the person to hospital because you will also be asked some of those questions.
You should pay attention to more warning when treating someone with alcohol poisoning.
- Don't give the person a cold shower: it could cause shock which might lead to unconsciousness or/and worsen hypothermia.
- Never use coffee: It can increase dehydration.
- Don't lay them on their back: the person can end up swallowing their vomit thereby causing severe damage to their liver and body.
- Never let the person "sleep it off": It might result to a coma or unconsciousness, more so in severe cases.
- Don't let the person walk as it may make the situation worse.