Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms - Vomit, Slow Breathing, Passed Out, Cold Skin, Seizures
Hundreds of college students will die this year from alcohol poisoning - A tragic statistic of completely preventable deaths. These hundreds will leave behind many thousands more, roommates, friends, boy/girlfriends, people who were there with the victim but who didn’t know the danger sings of alcohol poisoning, and didn’t follow the steps that could have saved a life.
Take 5 minutes to learn the facts about alcohol poisoning, and know what to do when someone you care about enters into a dangerous situation.
Why is alcohol dangerous?
Alcohol (ethanol) is a toxic substance – essentially it is poison. If you consume a small quantity of ethanol, you will feel some pleasant sensations. If you consume alcohol in excess you will lose increasing control over you body and mind (get drunk) and if you continue to drink into extreme intoxication, you risk death. You can poison yourself to death, and it may take less alcohol than you think.
How does alcohol kill?
Alcohol is most well known for the dangers associated with longer term consumption and alcoholism, but it is also quite dangerous when taken acutely. Alcohol can kill a person in a single drinking session in 2 ways.
- Alcohol is a depressant. This means it slows down the activity of the brain. It can slow down the activity in parts of the brain responsible for controlling things like breathing and the gag reflex, and if you drink enough, it can slow or even stop these vital functions. Drink enough and you can simply stop breathing.
- Alcohol is an irritant to the stomach, and when you drink excessive amounts of alcohol, the stomach reacts as it would in the presence of any poison, and tries to expel the stomach contents – and you vomit. It's a safety mechanism. But since alcohol can also impair the gag reflex, people who pass out drunk and start throwing up are at great risk to choke on their own vomit, and many alcohol overdose deaths are from asphyxiation on vomit while passed out drunk.
Combining alcohol with other drugs or medications greatly increases the risks.
How much alcohol is too much?
Most people can metabolize about 1 drink per hour. Drinking at a rate greater than 1 per hour will result in increasing intoxication. There are a number of variables that influence the amount of alcohol a person can consume, and factors such as experience, body weight, stomach contents and fatigue will all influence the effects of alcohol on the body.
In some cases, as little as 6 drinks in an hour for a smaller person have proven lethal.
Many alcohol poisoning deaths occur after participation in drinking games or dares – scenarios where a person might drink far more alcohol far more quickly than they normally would. These games are especially dangerous due to the lag time of alcohol absorption into the blood stream. It takes a while to fully absorb all of the alcohol you drink (30-90 minutes for full absorption) so you might continue to quickly drink shooters, not knowing how dangerously intoxicated you were going to get.
Drinking games are very dangerous.
Signs of Alcohol Poisoning
The following signs indicate alcohol poisoning. If you see any of these symptoms, call an ambulance. Don't worry about being wrong, there may not be any second chances if you’re wrong and don't call.
- The person has passed out and you can't wake them up
- Very slow breathing or irregular breathing (less than 8 breaths per minute)
- Very cold skin, blue lips, clammy skin or other signs of hypothermia
- Pale skin
Don't let them sleep it off….
Very few college students drink themselves to death in isolation. Most that die do so in a group, and most are "put to bed" by friends who think that they just need to sleep it off.
Although only time will sober the person up, unsupervised sleep can be deadly, as the person may choke on vomit, may simply start breathing, may go into a hypoglycemic seizures or may vomit so much as to develop dehydration linked brain damage.
Leaving them alone is dangerous.