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Alcohol poisoning

Alcohol poisoning is what happens to someone when they’ve drunk a dangerous amount of alcohol, normally in a short space of time.

Drinking too much alcohol stops the nervous system from working properly, particularly in the brain. This can severely weaken the mental and physical body functions, like sight, speech, coordination and memory. 

Alcohol poisoning can also send a person into deep unresponsiveness and, at worst, can slow or even shut down their breathing, causing death.

What to look for - Alcohol poisoning

If you think someone may have alcohol poisoning, these are the key things to look for:

  • • a strong smell of alcohol and you may see empty bottles or cans
  • • confusion and slurred speech
  • • vomiting
  • • reddened and moist face
  • • deep, noisy breathing
  • • a strong, pounding pulse
  • • unresponsiveness

If they are unresponsive, you also need to look for:

  • • shallow breathing
  • • weak, rapid pulse
  • • widened pupils that react poorly to light

What you need to do - Alcohol poisoning

• Reassure them and cover them with a coat or blanket to keep them warm.

• Check them over for any injuries, especially head injuries, or any other medical conditions.

• If they are breathing normally but are not fully responsive, place them into the recovery position.

• Keep checking their breathing, level of response and pulse.

• Don’t make them be sick as this could block their airway and stop them from breathing.

• If you’re unsure about how serious their condition is then call 999 or 112 for medical help.

• If they lose responsiveness at any point, open their airway, check their breathing and prepare to treat someone who’s become unresponsive.

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