Alcohol Intoxication (cont.)
Alcohol Intoxication, Physician Treatment and Follow-up
Treatment: No specific treatment can reverse the effects of alcohol intoxication.
- Intoxicated people often receive IV fluids and B complex vitamins for dehydration (alcohol is a diuretic and increases urine output)
and as a precaution or treatment for vitamin deficiency.
- In severe cases - those of severe stupor and coma - the person should be intubated (a breathing tube placed in
the patient's airway) to support respirations (which may stop spontaneously) and to protect the lungs from filling with vomit/secretions.
- Intubation involves placing a short, flexible plastic tube into the windpipe
(trachea) just below the vocal cords and connecting the tube to a respirator machine. The tip of the tube has a small donut-shaped balloon around it, which is inflated to seal the end of the tube to the inside of the windpipe. This accomplishes two things:
- It prevents the air from the respirator from leaking out into the mouth instead of going into the lungs.
- It provides a protective seal so that a large amount of vomit in the mouth is prevented from entering the lungs where it could cause damage and possible suffocation.
Follow-up: Barring any major complications, most intoxicated people
may go home from the hospital's emergency department. For some medical and many
legal reasons, most hospitals prefer to keep people suspected of alcohol
intoxication under observation until their blood alcohol concentration falls to below 100 mg/dL.
- In most people, the liver metabolizes about 10 grams of ethanol per hour. This corresponds to a
blood alcohol concentration fall of about 20 mg/dL per hour. Thus, the length of time a person (and family) will need to wait until discharge may be expressed by the formula (blood
alcohol concentration-100)/20 = the wait in hours. For example, the blood
alcohol concentration from a blood sample drawn at midnight is 280
mg/dL. (280-100)/20 = 9. The blood alcohol concentration should fall to 100 mg/dL by 9 am (midnight plus 9 hours).
- A social worker may talk with the intoxicated person prior to discharge from the hospital. The social worker may advise the person to go to an alcohol treatment center. This is an extremely difficult situation because many people either don't recognize their problem if they are chronic drinkers, or don't have any desire to correct the situation.
Must Read Articles Related to Alcohol Intoxication
Addiction is possible whenever ingesting a substance causes the basic pleasure and reward circuits in the brain to activate. Addiction is an illness that requir...learn more >>
Alcohol problems vary in severity from mild to life threatening and affect the individual, the person's family, and society in numerous adverse ways. Despite al...learn more >>
Drug Dependence & Abuse
Drug abuse and drug dependence represent different ends of the same disease process.
Drug abuse is an intense desire to obtain increasing amounts of a parti...learn more >>