Chances are, if you’re one of the many people who drink alcohol, that you’ve experienced an episode (or two) of overindulgence. Most drinkers can relate to hangover symptoms: headache, nausea, fatigue, etc. But consumption to excess can also lead to alcohol poisoning; a condition with a risk of death due to: seizure, choking on your own vomit, or breathing difficulties. Even in cases where death is avoided, brain damage is still a potential effect.
Alcohol is classified as a depressant, which when ingested, works to depress our nerves – the very same nerves that control breathing. In order to combat the effects of alcohol, our bodies must release a number of chemicals. However, despite the positive intentions, these chemicals can cause fatigue and nausea. With a few too many cocktails under our belts, we often experience slurred speech, blurred vision and coordination difficulties. Because alcohol also inhibits the gag reflex, those who become unconscious after a night of excess may lose the ability to control their vomit, posing a heightened risk of asphyxiation. To boot, even when a person becomes unconscious, blood alcohol levels will continue to rise.
What are the Signs?
Though the symptoms associated with intoxication and poisoning are quite similar – nausea, headache, mental confusion, blurred vision – when a person overdoses, they fall into a deep unconscious state, from which they are unable to be awakened. Irregular or slowed breathing may become apparent, body temperature may drop and vomiting will often increase. Once blood sugar levels have dropped low enough, skin tones may appear pale or a slight shade of blue. Seizures may sometimes follow.
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