The Dangers of Drinking Too Much Alcohol
As the festive season is now well underway, many of us will be enjoying a tipple or two at a Christmas party. When people get together and start drinking alcohol, it can be all too easy for things to get out of control. Would you be able to spot the signs of alcohol poisoning? Do you know what to do if an intoxicated person were to fall unconscious?
You might be shocked to discover that in England and Wales, 63% of all deaths related to the misuse of alcohol were caused by alcohol liver disease in 2016 (Public Health England). According to the NHS, there were 5,843 alcohol-related deaths in 2017 and 21% of adults drank more than the recommended 14 units per week.
How does alcohol affect the body?
Did you know that too much alcohol could stop your heartbeat? This is because it affects the nerves that control your heartbeat, as well as your breathing rate. Did you also know that alcohol can cause seizures? This is due to the way that it lowers your blood sugar.
Alcohol dehydrates you and slows down your brain functions, which is why people often lose their sense of balance when they are drunk. Drinking excess alcohol will irritate your stomach lining and could affect your gag reflex, which is why vomiting can be very dangerous.
What precautions can you take when it comes to alcohol?
There are a lot of myths around drinking, including ‘how best to sober up’. The hard truth is that alcohol poisoning can affect anyone and will depend on your age, sex, size, weight, how much you have eaten and how fast you are drinking. In short, the more you drink, the longer it will take for alcohol to get out of your system.
Make sure you have eaten a meal before you head out for festive drinks. Aim to drink a glass of water in between each alcoholic drink to stay hydrated. Don’t binge drink; always give your body enough time to process the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream. The level of alcohol in your body can continue to rise for up to 40 minutes after you have consumed your last drink.
If you suspect that someone may have alcohol poisoning, then here are some essential do’s and don’ts:
- CHECK if the person is confused? Are they vomiting? Have they lost coordination? Are they breathing slowly or irregularly? Do they have pale or blue-tinged skin? Are they conscious? Have they had a seizure?
- DO keep them awake by sitting them up, giving them water and keeping them warm. If they have passed out, then lay them on their side in the recovery position and check whether they are breathing. Keep monitoring their symptoms until further help arrives.
- DON’T let them drink any more alcohol or leave them to sleep it off. If they are conscious, then don’t give them coffee, as this will only dehydrate them further (severe dehydration can cause brain damage). Never suggest a cold shower, as alcohol lowers the body temperature, so they could go into hypothermic shock. Also, don’t suggest they try to walk it off, as this could lead to an accident. Never ever encourage them to be sick – there’s a risk they could choke on their own vomit.
Are you confident that you would know what to do if a friend or family member had alcohol poisoning? Why not consider booking a place on our next First Aid Course? For more details and a friendly chat, call 07974 407988.