Alcohol poisoning occurs when a person consumes an excessive amount
of alcohol. Alcohol can depress or stop nerve signals that control breathing
and the gag reflex that prevents choking; alcohol poisoning is a serious
condition that can lead to irreversible brain damage or death if not treated
Signs of alcohol poisoning include:
Vomiting. An unconscious person could choke and
suffocate from vomiting.
Passing out, coma,
or inability to awaken the person.
breathing—fewer than 8 breaths a minute.
seconds or more between breaths.
Low body temperature
(hypothermia), bluish skin, and paleness.
The level of alcohol in the blood continues to rise even after a
person stops drinking. It can take around 30 to 90 minutes for the alcohol to
enter the bloodstream, circulate throughout the body, and cause full
intoxication. The amount of time depends on how quickly and how much the person
drank along with what else is in the stomach.
Drinking coffee, walking or sleeping it off, or taking a cold
shower will not help reverse the symptoms of alcohol poisoning. Immediate medical treatment is always needed if you suspect
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Peter Monti, PhD - Alcohol and Addiction
The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.