The risk of alcohol poisoning is not uniform among individuals, but binge drinking in a short span significantly heightens the danger.
As Diwali festivities unfold, characterized by card parties and alcohol in many households, it’s essential to be aware that consuming a large amount of alcohol within a short period can lead to alcohol poisoning.
Doctors explain that alcohol poisoning occurs when the bloodstream becomes saturated with alcohol, severely depressing vital functions such as breathing, heart rate, and body temperature. This condition is severe and potentially life-threatening as alcohol negatively impacts the body’s crucial functions.
The threshold for alcohol poisoning varies among individuals based on factors like weight, tolerance, and overall health. However, the risk significantly increases with binge drinking—consuming more than five alcoholic drinks in two hours for men and more than four drinks for women is generally considered binge drinking. Additionally, a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher can lead to poisoning.
Recognizing the signs of alcohol poisoning is crucial for timely intervention. Symptoms include confusion, vomiting, seizures, slow or irregular breathing, hypothermia, and unconsciousness.
Combining alcohol with opioids or sedative-hypnotics, such as sleep aids or anxiety pills, increases the likelihood of overdose. Benzodiazepines and sleep aids are cited as examples of such drugs.
Immediate first aid for alcohol poisoning includes:
- Calling for emergency medical assistance.
- Staying with the person and trying to keep them awake.
- Encouraging them to sit up if conscious.
- Not leaving the person alone to prevent choking on vomit.
- Turning them onto their side if unconscious to prevent choking.
Attempts to “sober them up” with cold showers, hot drinks, or walking them around are strongly discouraged, as these methods do not reverse alcohol poisoning and may worsen the situation.
After contacting emergency services, it is crucial to continue monitoring the affected person until professional help arrives. Medical professionals should be provided with information about the amount and type of alcohol consumed.
Recovery steps may include intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration, monitoring vital signs, and treatment for related complications. Psychological support and counseling may also be necessary to address underlying issues contributing to excessive alcohol consumption.
Mixing alcohol with over-the-counter antihistamines or illegal opiates is strongly discouraged, as it can amplify the effects of each substance and increase the risk of overdosing even with moderate alcohol amounts.