Alcohol intoxication Wikipedia

The differential diagnosis for alcohol toxicity is very broad and includes anything that can cause an altered mental status. Considerations include trauma, sepsis, CNS infections, seizure, nonalcoholic toxicologic ingestion, hypo- or hyperthermia, hypo- or hyperthyroidism, hypoxia, and metabolic derangements. Many of these can coexist with alcohol toxicity, so it is important to have a low threshold to obtain laboratory workup and CNS imaging. Complicating the diagnosis of alcohol toxicity is the potential for the patient to ingest non-beverage alcohol such as cologne, cough syrup, and isopropyl alcohol. This can be accidental, such as in pediatrics, or intentional, such as in patients with alcohol use disorder who do not have access to alcohol. Ethylene glycol, methanol, and isopropyl toxicity are discussed in separate articles, and please see these articles for further details. Once alcohol use has been confirmed, further diagnoses have to be considered, such as Wernicke encephalopathy and hepatic encephalopathy.

Which alcohol is toxic?

Methanol (CH3OH) is a toxic alcohol that is found in various household and industrial agents. Methanol exposure can be extremely dangerous, with significant morbidity and mortality if left untreated.

Impairment of decision-making and judging abilities, blackouts, and vomiting are the characteristics of this stages of alcohol intoxication. Health, safety and socioeconomic problems attributable to alcohol can be reduced when governments formulate and implement appropriate policies. Alcohol consumption by an expectant mother may cause fetal alcohol syndrome and pre-term birth complications. Alcohol is a psychoactive substance with dependence-producing properties that has been widely used in many cultures for centuries. The harmful use of alcohol causes a high burden of disease and has significant social and economic consequences.

What Is an Alcohol Overdose?

In patients who consume alcohol at harmful levels, it is important to intervene early. Presentation to the emergency department for drunkenness should be considered an indicator of pathological use. With chronic alcohol use, the number of GABA receptors is increased, requiring more and more alcohol to create the same level of inhibition. This tolerance partly explains the alertness of chronic alcohol users at blood alcohol levels that in others would cause coma or death. Benzodiazepines also bind to the GABA receptor, making them useful in alcohol withdrawal. Alcohol also inhibits the primary excitatory neurotransmitter in the CNS, glutamate.

  • At a BAC of 0.45 percent or above, a person is likely to die from alcohol intoxication.
  • Acetate is used by the muscle cells to produce acetyl-CoA using the enzyme acetyl-CoA synthetase, and the acetyl-CoA is then used in the citric acid cycle.
  • Alcohol intoxication can lead to alcohol-related crime with perpetrators more likely to be intoxicated than victims.
  • Isopropanol is the only toxic alcohol that causes ketosis without acidosis.
  • Using alcohol with opioid pain relievers such as oxycodone and morphine or illicit opioids such as heroin is also a very dangerous combination.
  • Emergency treatment strives to stabilize and maintain an open airway and sufficient breathing while waiting for the alcohol to metabolize.

Worldwide, 3 million deaths every year result from harmful use of alcohol. Our results indicate that the antinociceptive effects of alcohol in the hot plate test are influenced by strain and sex. These findings support further genetic analysis of alcohol-induced antinociception to identify operative mechanisms and better assess the contribution of this phenotype to AUD. A person can usually tell when they are intoxicated, but it may be challenging to spot the signs in others. Alcohol intoxication causes physical and behavioral symptoms that range from mild to severe. Ketamine has been explored as a treatment for depression and other conditions.

Chapter 23 – Alcohol toxicity: The role of oxidative stress

Acute alcohol intoxication can cause alcoholic hepatitis and acute on chronic liver failure. This is usually in patients who are chronic alcohol abusers or patients already affected by alcoholic cirrhosis. Active excessive alcohol consumption is the second most frequent precipitating event for acute on chronic liver failure, with bacterial infection being the first. The most effective therapy for alcoholic liver disease is prolonged abstinence from alcohol. Alcohol can cause both acute and chronic effects on the cardiovascular system.

  • Relevant anatomical and pathophysiological aspects underlying these conditions will be also be presented.
  • A variety of factors which affect the levels and patterns of alcohol consumption and the magnitude of alcohol-related problems in populations have been identified at individual and societal levels.
  • But when blood alcohol levels are high, your overwhelmed liver can’t remove the toxins quickly enough.

The percentage of deaths among men amounts to 7.7 % of all global deaths compared to 2.6 % of all deaths among women. Total alcohol per capita consumption in 2016 among male and female drinkers worldwide was on average 19.4 litres of pure alcohol for males and 7.0 litres for females. Individual factors include age, gender, family circumstances and socio-economic status.

Toxic Alcohol Ingestions

Because concomitant medical and surgical conditions can occur simultaneously with alcohol withdrawal, medical evaluation with CT and lumbar puncture may be needed. Patients with mild symptoms do not require routine testing unless improvement is not marked within 2 to 3 days. A clinical assessment tool for severity of alcohol withdrawal is available.


Symptoms of intoxication at lower doses may include mild sedation and poor coordination. At higher doses, there may be slurred speech, trouble walking, and vomiting. Extreme doses may result in a respiratory depression, coma, or death. Complications may include seizures, aspiration pneumonia, injuries including suicide, and low blood sugar.

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