Holidays, anniversaries and other social events can be prime opportunities to drink. A couple of drinks may turn into an excessive amount and can even lead to alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning is a condition in which a person consumes a lethal amount of alcohol, usually in a short period of time. A blood alcohol content between 0.35% and 0.40% usually denotes potentially fatal alcohol poisoning. In rare cases, long-time drinkers may be able to double that percentage.
The results of alcohol poisoning can turn deadly if not addressed properly. That’s why it’s essential to know the signs and symptoms. Better yet, prevent alcohol poisoning altogether by drinking in moderation or not drinking at all.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are 2,200 alcohol poisoning deaths in the United States each year. On average, six people die from alcohol poisoning each day in the U.S.
Early Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning
It’s crucial to know when someone is experiencing alcohol poisoning so you can get them the help they need. The first signs that someone is experiencing alcohol poisoning include:
- Uncontrolled vomiting while conscious or semi-conscious
- Mental confusion
- Inability to wake up
- Difficulty remaining conscious
- Clammy skin
- Irregular breathing (10 seconds or more between breaths)
- Slow breathing (fewer than eight breaths per minute)
- Slow heart rate
- Pale or blue-hued skin
- Dulled responses, such as no gag reflex
Preventing Severe Alcohol Poisoning
If you suspect someone has alcohol poisoning, take these steps:
- Stop them from consuming more alcohol.
- Let them know when or if you’re going to move them, as some people may become aggressive.
- Keep them in an upright position. If this is not possible, make sure to place them on their side if they fall asleep. This will keep their airways open in case of vomiting.
- Take their keys away and do not let them drive.
- Wrap them in a blanket or something warm.
- If the person is conscious, try to get them to drink water, since alcohol and vomiting may cause dehydration.
- Make sure they arrive home safely.
You may need to call 911, depending on the severity of the situation. If you suspect someone has alcohol poisoning, never leave them alone to “sleep it off.” A person’s blood alcohol content may continue to rise even after they’ve stopped drinking and can lead to respiratory arrest, comas, choking and even death.
Signs that a person’s life may be in jeopardy and you should call 911 include:
- Puking while passed out
- Slow, shallow or no breathing
- Unresponsive to pinching, shaking or any stimulation
- Blue, cold or clammy skin
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