Alcohol poisoning results from excessive intake of alcohol. Large quantities of alcohol can be very dangerous when ingested over a short period of time. When the body attempts to manage intake of quantities of alcohol beyond what the liver can process, alcohol poisoning is likely to result.
Alcohol poisoning signs and symptoms include:
- Slow breathing (less than eight breaths a minute)
- Irregular breathing (a gap of more than 10 seconds between breaths)
- Blue-tinged skin or pale skin
- Low body temperature (hypothermia)
- Passing out (unconsciousness) and can’t be awakened
If you suspect that someone has alcohol poisoning — even if you don’t see the classic signs and symptoms — seek immediate medical care. Here’s what to do:
- Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. Never assume the person will sleep off alcohol poisoning.
- Be prepared to provide information. If you know, be sure to tell hospital or emergency personnel the kind and amount of alcohol the person drank, and when.
- Don’t leave an unconscious person alone. Because alcohol poisoning affects the way the gag reflex works, someone with alcohol poisoning may choke on his or her own vomit and not be able to breathe. While waiting for help, don’t try to make the person vomit because he or she could choke.
- Help a person who is vomiting. Try to keep him or her sitting up. If the person must lie down, make sure to turn his or her head to the side — this helps prevent choking. Try to keep the person awake to prevent loss of consciousness.