What is alcohol poisoning?

28 July 2017
Comments: 0
28 July 2017, Comments: 0

Alcohol poisoning occurs if an individual ingests a toxic amount of alcohol in a short span of time. This can damage one’s overall health or even put your life in danger.

It is vital to avoid abusing alcohol and being aware of the amount being ingested and the potential effects on the body.



In severe cases, alcohol poisoning has the potential to progress to coma, damage to the brain and even death.

The indications of alcohol poisoning generally include:

  • Significantly slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of coordination
  • Erratic or slow breathing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Hypothermia
  • Stupor

In severe cases, alcohol poisoning has the potential to progress to coma, damage to the brain and even death.

When should I seek medical care?

If alcohol poisoning is suspected, call for emergency assistance right away. While waiting for the medical team to arrive:

  • Keep the individual in a seated position and awake
  • Make sure that the individual is warm
  • Provide water if able to drink
  • If the individual has passed out, put him/her on their side in the recovery position and check if breathing correctly
  • Stay with the individual and monitor the symptoms

Remember that it is not advisable to leave the individual alone to “sleep” the condition off. The amount of alcohol in the blood can continue to escalate for up to 30-40 minutes even after the last beverage ingested. This causes the symptoms to become severe abruptly.

Management of alcohol poisoning

In the healthcare facility, the individual should be monitored carefully until the alcohol has been eliminated from the body. In case treatment is required, it might include:

  • Intubation or insertion of a tube into the mouth and windpipe – this is done to open the airway, eliminate any obstructions and assist with breathing
  • Intravenous drip – this helps in increasing the water, vitamin and blood sugar levels
  • Placement of a catheter into the bladder – this helps with the drainage of the urine directly into a bag

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on alcohol poisoning is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage this form of poisoning, register for a first aid and CPR course with Toronto First Aid.

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