Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant which may be surprising since users often exhibit hyperactive traits. However, when taken in excess, alcohol depresses involuntary muscle contractions such as breathing or gag reflexes. Gag reflexes are crucial because they prevent aspiration or the act of inhaling fluids into the lungs. Without the gag reflex, individuals vomiting during unconsciousness will choke on their own vomit which may lead to death. The most common symptoms of alcohol poisoning include slow or irregular breathing (less than 8 breaths per minute), cool/clammy skin, unreactive or sluggish pupils, and extreme confusion. To determine respiration rate, one can count the number of breaths taken over a period by 30 seconds and multiply by 2 to get the breaths per minute. Irregular breathing is determined by listening to the consistency of breaths – this includes periods between breaths as well as inhalation volume (shallow or deep). Pupils constrict in the presence of light and dilate in the presence of darkness. Using a flashlight, one can test for eye reactivity by shining light into pupils. In most alcohol poisoning cases, pupils will remain dilated even in the presence of light.

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