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Definition:

Ethanol poisoning is caused by drinking too much alcohol.

This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.



Poisonous Ingredient:

Ethanol



Where Found:

Alcoholic beverages, including:

  • Beer
  • Gin
  • Vodka
  • Wine
  • Whiskey


Symptoms:

Home Treatment:

If you can wake an adult who has drank too much alcohol, move the person to a comfortable place to sleep off the effects. Make sure the person won't fall or get hurt.

Place the person on their side in case they throw up (vomit). DO NOT make the person throw up unless told to do so by a health care professional or Poison Control.

Check the person frequently to make sure their condition does not get worse.

If the person is not alert (unconscious) or only somewhat alert (semi-conscious), emergency assistance may be needed. When in doubt, call for medical help.



Before Calling Emergency:

Determine the following information:

  • Patient's age, weight, and condition
  • Name of the drinks consumed (ingredients and strengths if known)
  • Time it was swallowed
  • Amount swallowed

However, DO NOT delay calling for help if this information is not immediately available.



Poison Control, or a local emergency number:

The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.

This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

See: Poison control center - emergency number



What to expect at the emergency room:

The health care provider will measure and monitor the patient's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. The patient may receive:

  • Breathing and airway support
  • Fluids by IV
  • Medicines to treat symptoms


Expectations (prognosis):

Survival over 24 hours past the drinking binge usually means the person will recover.



References:

Goldfrank LR, ed. Goldfrank's Toxicologic Emergencies. 8th ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill; 2006.




Review Date: 2/3/2009
Reviewed By: John E. Duldner, Jr., MD, MS, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, Samaritan Regional Health System, Ashland, Ohio. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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