Drinking alcoholic beverages in small amounts has some beneficial effects in the body. It provides glucose in the body which provides extra calories that can be used as a source of energy. It also has a bronchodilating effect which helps one breathe more effectively. On the downside, too much alcohol can shut down one’s body and it is in this scenario that alcohol poisoning can happen. What is alcohol poisoning treatment at home?
Alcohol poisoning is the excessive ingestion of alcohol. Here, the blood ethanol (alcohol) level is too high which can be very fatal. A line should be made to distinguish alcohol poisoning and being drunk. In being drunk, the person experiences impairment in his capability to analyze and judge situations and loses his coordination while in alcohol poisoning the person may faint or pass out.
Alcoholic drinks are now becoming the favorite drink of the people. People who eat out or go to clubs or parties usually look for alcohol instead of juice or water. Even in simple family affairs, alcohol could not be eliminated in the list of drinks that will be served. Statistics reveal that in the United states, 66% of the population consumes alcohol and that 3 million of Americans over the age of 60 are alcohol abusers or alcohol dependents. Suicide victims in the United States are 20% alcoholics which makes alcohol the third leading cause of preventable deaths in the U.S.
When a person ingests ethanol, it is metabolized into acetaldehyde by the tissues in the stomach. Acetaldehyde is then metabolized by liver cells into acetate. This acetate is then used by the muscle cells to produce Acetyl-CoA which is used in the Citric Acid cycle. Normally, it would take about 90 minutes for a healthy liver to metabolize a single ounce of ethanol.
Ethanol is naturally a central nervous system depressant but that depends on the blood alcohol concentration. Below depicts the range of ethanol in the blood and its corresponding effects in the body.
Blood Ethanol Range (mg/dL) Effects
20-99 Euphoria and impairment of coordination
100-199 Labile mood, Poor judgment and Ataxic gait
200-299 Labile mood, poor judgemet, slurring of speech, marked ataxia, nausea and vomiting
300-399 Labile mood, stage 1 anesthesia, memory lapse
400 and above Respiratory failure, coma and death
Blood ethanol level of 19 mg/dL and below shows no harmful effect in the body. As the blood ethanol level increases, its effect in the body becomes unacceptable up to the point of death. As one increasingly gets drunk, he/she becomes sleepy and can end up stuporous. Respiratory failure can occur and in time the person ceases to breath. So, when seeing someone passes out after a drinking session, do not leave the person behind thinking that he just slept it out. Bring the person to the nearest hospital as this may be a case of alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning is a medical emergency and should be dealt with immediately. People who passed out after a drinking session can vomit and then aspirate the vomitus. This can cause the person to drown on his own secretions.
In terms of drinking, moderation is the key. The CNS depression and impaired coordination found in alcohol intoxication can predispose one to road accidents so do not allow a friend to drive a car when he/she is drunk. It has been estimated that 32% of alcohol related deaths are due to accidents.
Symptoms of alcohol intoxication are as follows:
• loss of consciousness
• slow breathing
• hypoglycemia (This is due to the ethanol’s capability to inhibit gluconeogenesis)
• pale blue skin or cyanosis
• cold and clammy skin
Alcohol poisoning is a medical emergency which means that when this thing happens, immediately call 911 for medical assistance. While waiting for the ambulance to come, establish a free flowing airway of the person. Since the risk of aspiration is high. Simply maneuver the person in a side lying position so that is he vomits, the vomitus can freely go out of his mouth and not inside his lungs.
Second thing to do is to establish the breathing of the person. Monitor how the person breathes. If there are episodes of apnea or absence of breathing, give the person a mouth to mouth resuscitation. Give at least 16 breaths per minute.
Third thing to do is watch for circulatory problems. If the person is cold to touch, he/she may be experiencing hypothermia. Cover the person in a thick blanket. Do not place hot bags since this can cause burning. Remember that the person is already unconscious and could not react if the warmth is too much.
In the hospital, the person would be hooked to an intravenous fluid so to replace fluid in the body. Alcohol has a diuretic effect and having too much could lead to dehydration. Aside from replacing fluid losses, intravenous therapy also helps remove the alcohol in the blood through the formation of urine. If hypoglycemia occurs, the person can be given with D50W via intravenous so to provide the person with glucose immediately. In case of severe alcohol poisoning, dialytic therapy can be done to immediately flush the alcohol in the body out. Dialysis acts as an artificial kidney that cleanses the blood of impurities (like alcohol).