While drinking alcohol can be an enjoyable beverage, overconsumption has risks. Here are some proven methods to perform first aid for alcohol poisoning courtesy of our team at First Aid Pro.
Alcohol poisoning occurs when an individual’s body cannot filter alcohol through their bloodstream due to excessive drinking.
Consuming too much alcohol in a short amount of time often leads to poisoning.
When your body cannot process the amount of alcohol you are drinking, it will begin to affect your functioning and could lead to death if untreated.
Becoming educated on how to recognise alcohol poisoning, using effective first aid to treat the condition and knowing prevention methods can help you manage this illness correctly.
Recognising Alcohol Poisoning
Before someone’s condition worsens, it is important to recognise the symptoms of alcohol poisoning early and act fast.
Slurred speech or experiencing confusion while drinking are clear signs of alcohol poisoning.
Another indication of alcohol poisoning is discoloured and clammy skin that looks blue.
Vomiting and nausea are also common symptoms of this condition.
Heavily intoxicated people may also experience a loss of consciousness or deteriorating coordination.
While these symptoms all point to alcohol poisoning, the best method to monitor someone’s level of impairment is to check their Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) levels.
If the individual can breathe without assistance, these levels can be assessed using a breathalyser.
Here are the different ranges of BAC percentages and their implications;
- From 0.0-0.5% – Poisoning within this bracket is mild and generally has minimal complications. People in this BAC range may feel sleepy, have slower coordination and experience memory loss.
- From 0.6-0.15% – Individuals in this range will show increased symptoms and have decreased motor functions.
- From 0.16-0.30% – This BAC bracket can cause serious side effects such as blackouts and vomiting.
- From 0.31-0.45% – People in this range are considered critical and are at risk of death. Vital functions will become heavily impaired.
You can decide what first aid and medical attention a person requires by evaluating their BAC percentages and symptoms.
Effective Ways to Treat Alcohol Poisoning
Although alcohol poisoning can be life-threatening, many first-aid techniques can assist people experiencing the illness.
Before administering first aid, you must clear any dangerous materials from the area.
Once you and the intoxicated individual are away from hazardous objects like bottles or debris, you can begin helping them.
In cold conditions, start by placing a warm material such as a blanket or coat over the person to reduce the risk of them developing hypothermia.
After the individual is warm, assess them for any injuries, especially around the head.
People who have lost consciousness must be placed on their side in the recovery position to ensure they do not choke on their vomit.
When someone who has suffered alcohol poisoning vomits, use their fingers to clear the airways.
Using their fingers will protect you from harm if the individual has a seizure and bites down while their airways are being cleansed.
If they are responsive, ask them about their previous medical history, as this information will help medical professionals deliver appropriate care.
Along with performing the correct methods, it is also important to refrain from using harmful practices when someone suffers from alcohol poisoning.
When someone is intoxicated, you must not put them in a cold shower. This shower could send them into shock and increase the severity of their symptoms.
Feeding someone experiencing alcohol poisoning is another practice you should avoid.
Despite popular opinion, feeding individuals who are intoxicated will not sober them up; it only boosts their risk of choking or vomiting.
Regardless of the severity, all cases of alcohol poisoning are considered an emergency and require immediate medical assistance.
You must dial the emergency number as soon as possible when an individual starts displaying symptoms.
Tips for Prevention
Alcohol poisoning can be serious and sometimes fatal, so prevention methods are extremely helpful.
Responsible consumption of alcohol is the best approach to avoiding this illness.
There are many ways to drink responsibly, such as eating before consuming alcohol, having a glass of water between beverages and refraining from excessive drinking.
According to trusted research, male and female adults should consume at most four standard drinks every 24 hours.
In Australia, a standard drink is a beverage that contains 10g (12.5mL) of alcohol.
If you are on prescription medication, ask your general practitioner whether alcohol can be consumed safely with the drug.
Some medications can cause serious illness when mixed with alcohol, so it is important only to drink the beverages that medical professionals have approved.
To learn more about how to administer first aid for alcohol poisoning and other medical conditions, register for First Aid Pro’s nationally accredited courses.