What Happens When You Drink Too Much Alcohol?

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What Happens

  • Excessive alcohol consumption can cause alcohol poisoning. This condition can be extremely dangerous, or even fatal. Alcohol poisoning occurs when a large amount of alcohol is consumed, such as drinking more than five alcoholic beverages in a short amount of time. The age, size and weight of the person can determine how much alcohol consumption is OK before poisoning occurs.

    Other substances containing forms of alcohol can also cause alcohol poisoning, such as antifreeze, rubbing alcohol and some lotions. Accidental consumption of any of these products may result in alcohol poisoning.

    The use of illegal drugs and many prescription medications can also cause alcohol to be fatal. Some prescription medications and other drugs amplify the effects of alcohol, causing alcohol poisoning.

Complications

  • Alcohol poisoning can cause a number of minor and serious complications. One of the more serious complications is seizures. Seizures can cause permanent brain damage and loss of function in certain cells in the brain. Other complications may include passing out, vomiting, confusion, irregular breathing, blue skin and hypothermia. Alcohol also causes damage to the liver, whether with alcohol poisoning or drinking an excessive amount regularly.

    Alcohol also impairs one's ability to gag. According to Mayo Clinic, if one vomits after he has passed out, his gag reflex may be restrained due to the alcohol, and he could choke on the vomit or inhale it.

    Due to the severity of vomiting that occurs when someone has alcohol poisoning, dehydration may occur. If left untreated, this can be potentially fatal.

Poison Process

  • When the body is poisoned with alcohol, it will try to attempt to rid itself of the poison. The first sign of alcohol poisoning may be vomiting, which is the body's attempt to purge the alcohol from the stomach. Confusion is another of the first signs, as the alcohol has reacted with the chemicals in the brain, causing spells of dizziness, disorientation and stupors. If the poisoning is severe enough, spells of unconsciousness may occur after or during the vomiting. The brain may also cause the body to go into a seizure due to the reaction of the alcohol within the brain.

Diagnosis

  • It is important to have alcohol poisoning treated as soon as possible. Doctors will take blood and urine samples to check the amount of alcohol in the blood. If the amount is too much, the doctor will closely monitor the patient in order to prevent serious complications from occurring due to the poisoning.

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