Alcohol is a drug that can greatly impair the proper functioning of the central nervous system, including the brain. Excessive and prolonged consumption of alcohol can seriously suppress a person’s mental focus, concentration and balance and coordination—allowing the person to fall into deep unconsciousness.
- People with high alcohol tolerance—such people may drink over the limit, which may even cause death
- People who drink rapidly, will drastically increase their blood alcohol level or BAL and thus will not vomit while drinking
Early signs of overdose
- Drinking fast, playing or doing something else while drinking, drinking multiple shots or chugging
- Vomiting—one of the first signs of over intake of alcohol
- Incorporating stimulants such as energy drinks may allow you to drink more
Risks of alcohol overdose
- Due to over-consumption, the blood vessels may dilate, allowing the person to lose a high amount of body heat. This may result in hypothermia in extreme cases.
- The person may choke on his own vomit while he is unconscious.
- If the patient has collapsed due to injury to the head or has suffered a serious head trauma due to the fall, or if he has collapsed due to any other medical condition such as stroke or heart attack, doctors will not be able to give proper treatment or recognize the cause as the casualty will smell of alcohol and lead to the deduction that an overdose has caused him to collapse
Signs and symptoms of alcohol overdose
- Strong odor of alcohol
- Evidence of drinking–Empty glass bottles or cans around the casualty
- Impaired consciousness and coordination
- Deep, audible breathing
- Flushed, cold, damp face
- Irregular heartbeat
- Mood or behavioral changes—depressions and irritability
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain
Symptoms appearing in an unconscious person:
- Shallow breathing
- Weak pulse
- Dilated pupils–impaired activity to the exposure to light
First aid treatment
There are many dangers of alcohol overdose, including death. Vomiting is the key sign that indicates alcohol poisoning. Candidates that enrol in first aid training will learn the following steps in aiding a conscious, semi-conscious or unconscious victim of alcohol intoxication. If you suspect that a person has been drinking over the limit, the following steps will allow you to treat him until help arrives:
1. Assess the casualty
- Assess the level of consciousness of the casualty. If the patient is unable to respond, is not alert or is not fully conscious, turn him on his side and allow him to rest in the recovery position.
- Make sure the airway is clear
2. Seek medical attention if the following symptoms appear:
- Irregular breathing
- No response to pain—you may pinch the shoulder
- Pulse below 50 and respiration below 9 breaths/minute
3. If the casualty is conscious, follow these steps:
- Make sure the casualty is comfortable and cover him with a blanket
- Look for any injuries and administer first aid for any wounds; control bleeding and wash off any dirt.
- Evaluate and monitor signs of response—response, pulse, breathing
- Check the ABCs—airway, breathing and circulation
4. Reassure the patient
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