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Alcohol Poisoning: 5 Signs To Be on the Lookout For

 Alcohol poisoning is a serious, and sometimes deadly, consequence of consuming large amounts of alcohol in a short period. It's a medical emergency that requires immediate attention. Recognizing the signs of alcohol poisoning can be crucial in saving someone's life.


Here are five signs of alcohol poisoning to look out for.


Confusion or Stupor


One of the earliest signs of alcohol poisoning is a significant level of confusion or stupor. The individual may seem extremely disoriented, unable to recognize familiar faces, or unaware of their surroundings.


This confusion results from alcohol's depressant effects on the brain, particularly on the areas responsible for consciousness and cognition. If someone is showing signs of severe confusion after drinking, it's a clear signal that they need help.


Excessive Vomiting


Vomiting is the body's way of expelling toxins, including excess alcohol. However, in the context of alcohol poisoning, vomiting can become dangerous.


It indicates that the person's body is overwhelmed by the amount of alcohol consumed. Additionally, there's a risk of choking on vomit, especially if the individual is unconscious or has a reduced gag reflex, which is a common side effect of excessive drinking.


Continuous or severe vomiting is a red flag that should not be ignored.


Slow or Irregular Breathing


Alcohol poisoning can significantly impact the body's automatic functions, including breathing. Slow (less than eight breaths per minute) or irregular breathing (more than 10 seconds between breaths) is a sign of severe alcohol intoxication.


It means that alcohol is depressing the nervous system so much that it's beginning to affect the body's ability to regulate basic life-support functions.


This symptom is particularly alarming and warrants immediate medical attention.


Hypothermia or Low Body Temperature


Alcohol dilates blood vessels, leading to increased heat loss from the body's surface and potentially causing hypothermia. If someone who has been drinking heavily appears to be unusually cold to the touch, especially in a warm environment, it could be a sign of alcohol poisoning.


This symptom is further exacerbated if the person is outside in cold weather, as their impaired judgment might not lead them to seek warmth or cover adequately, increasing the risk of severe hypothermia.


Unconsciousness or Inability to Wake Up


Perhaps the most alarming sign of alcohol poisoning is when someone passes out and cannot be awakened. This level of unconsciousness is dangerous because it means the individual's brain functions are significantly impaired.


At this point, the risk of choking on their own vomit increases, and there could be a significant impact on their breathing and heart rate. Immediate medical intervention is necessary to ensure the person's airway is clear and to provide supportive care until the alcohol is metabolized.



Alcohol poisoning is a dire medical emergency that requires quick and decisive action. Recognizing these classic signs of confusion, vomiting, slow or irregular breathing, hypothermia, and unconsciousness, can be the difference between life and death.


If you suspect someone has alcohol poisoning, call emergency services immediately. Do not wait for all symptoms to present themselves, as acting fast can save a life.


Remember, alcohol poisoning is preventable. Try to drink responsibly and look out for the signs in each other.

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