Saturday, March 17, 2012

Alcoholism, What you need to know

Alcoholism, What you need to know

Facts About Alcohol

Drinking alcohol can be stress reliever after a hard day’s work, but for others, having a drink or two isn’t enough. If you are one of those who have to grab a drink every evening, do you know how much you are actually consuming? And have you noticed any difference in your general performance at work or have you experienced any lapses in memory?

Here are ten things that you might want to know about alcohol and these are based on the latest medical research reports.

1. Alcohol drinking reduces sleep quality. A recent controlled trial showed that alcohol results in poor sleep quality, also known as insomnia. This generally results in tossing and turning for hours each night, and eventually catching sleep only during the early morning hours.

2. Alcohol consumption increases the risk for diseases. Alcohol drinking often results in insomnia, which decreases the number of hours of quality sleep and reduces the body’s chance to recharge or recuperate from the activities performed in the past days. Insomnia also reduces the chance for the body to produce essential hormones that are important in fighting infection, thus making you prone to illness.

3. Alcohol can affect short- and long-term memory. During sleep, the brain is allowed to process information gained from the past days. When insomnia due to alcohol consumption sets in, the brain is not given enough time to classify and retain information gathered during the day and thus will result in a loss of memory. In more severe cases of alcohol dependence, the person can suffer from a deterioration of mental health, thus affected even long-term memory.

4. Drinking alcohol results in poor physical health. Alcohol can affect various systems of the body, often resulting in a lower quality of general health. Aside from the risk of frequent sickness, alcohol drinkers suffering from insomnia often lose the strength and stamina to perform the regular tasks.

5. Alcohol results in a lower performance at work. The combination of excessive alcohol drinking and insomnia often results in loss of memory, which can also affect a person’s performance at work. Missing appointments and forgetting names of clients can affect the total quality of work. Loss of memory can also be in the form of forgetting how to perform a regular task at work and this can be quite frustrating not only to the alcohol drinker but to co-workers, too.

6. People who frequently drink alcohol have a higher risk of suffering from mental health disorders. Alcohol drinkers have been reported to suffer from psychological issues, showing that the mental health condition of these people has deteriorated. These individuals tend to get upset easily, often showing anger outbursts at work and at home.

7. Alcohol induces behavioral problems. Drinking alcohol also results in a change in a person’s behavior, especially when one’s memory and mental health have been affected. In turn, an alcohol drinker’s behavior will change in response to these mental health developments. Family members can also be affected by this change in mental health.

8. Excessive alcohol intake increases the risk for accidents. Since excessive alcohol results in an affected memory, insomnia, and poor general mental health, an individual will suffer from poor coordination in driving or operating machines, thus making it more likely that accidents and death to occur. Poor memory can result in pressing the wrong pedal while driving or forgetting to stop a machine when one is about to get hurt.

9. Alcohol can induce mental distress. Excessive alcohol drinking not only results in a loss of memory and sleep but also induces an individual to experience high levels of anxiety. The mental health condition of an alcohol drinker has definitely changed and this often results in a decrease in self-esteem, making the person feel less capable and deserving of good things in life. Challenging tasks will now seem to be impossible to perform, making the person feel that he or she is worthless and unimportant.

10. Drinking too much alcohol can make a person become delusional. Have you talked to a person who just had too much to drink? This person often brags about his or her capabilities, often to the extent of being delusional. This change in mental health can be destructive, especially when the person attempts to show his or her claim of grandeur while under the influence of alcohol. Excessive drinking changes one’s general mental health condition because it desensitizes the nerves and thus makes the drinker feel that nothing can harm him or her.

So before you take the next glass of your favorite drink tonight, remember that excessive alcohol drinking affects mental health. It will not be surprising if you are currently suffering from insomnia and never realized that there was a connection between insomnia and alcohol. We usually don’t give much importance to sleep but once insomnia sets in, it is best to reduce the amount of alcohol we consume each day.

Alcohol Poisoning Symptoms

When a person has alcohol poisoning they have consumed a toxic amount of alcohol, usually over a short period. Their blood alcohol level is so high it is considered toxic (poisonous). The patient can become extremely confused, unresponsive, disoriented, have shallow breathing, and can even pass out or go into a coma. Alcohol poisoning can be life-threatening and usually requires urgent medical treatment.

Binge drinking is a common cause of alcohol poisoning. However, it can also occur accidentally, as when somebody unintentionally drinks alcohol-containing household products (much less common).

When somebody consumes an alcoholic drink, their liver has to filter out the alcohol, a toxin, from their blood. We absorb alcohol much more quickly than food - alcohol gets to our bloodstream much faster. However, the liver can only process a limited amount of alcohol; approximately one unit of alcohol every hour.

If you drink two units in one hour, there will be an extra unit in your bloodstream. If during the next hour you drink another two units, you will have two units floating around in your bloodstream at the end of two hours after your drinking session. The faster you drink, the higher your BAC (blood alcohol concentration) becomes. If you drink too fast, your BAC can spike dangerously high.

Rapid drinking can bring your BAC so high that your mental and physical functions become negatively affected. Your breathing, heartbeat and gag reflex - which are controlled by types of nerves - might not work properly. You become breathless, you may choke, and your heart rhythm might become irregular. If your BAC is high enough, these physical functions can stop working, the patient stops breathing and passes out (loses consciousness).

In the USA approximately 50,000 cases of alcohol poisoning are reported annually. About one patient dies each week in the USA from alcohol poisoning.

Those at highest risk of suffering from alcohol poisoning are college students, chronic alcoholics, those taking medications that might clash with alcohol, and sometimes children who may drink because they wish to know what it is like.

Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning

Although there are significant symptoms of alcohol poisoning, it is important to keep in mind that everyone may not present the signs and symptoms in the same order. Alcohol is a depressant and it will have an effect on the part of the nervous system that controls involuntary actions including gag reflexes and breathing. Vomiting is typically one of the first signs of alcohol poisoning, however, it is possible for someone to pass out and vomit while unconscious. The following are the typical order in which alcohol poisoning symptoms occur:
  • Feeling ill, nausea and vomiting. Alcohol is irritating to the stomach, so vomiting is common; however, alcohol poisoning may cause the person to have violent and drawn-out episodes of vomiting. If they want to lie down, it is important that the head is turned to the side in order to prevent choking.
  • Mental confusion and/or stupor. Someone with alcohol poisoning may become extremely dizzy, disoriented and confused. They may have slurred speech, difficulties making eye contact and/or display erratic behavior.
  • Seizures. A seizure from alcohol poisoning is due to the intoxication of the brain cells and diminishing reflexes of the body, which result in muscular spasms. If the person is shaking uncontrollably, it is vital that safety be the primary concern. If they are lying on their back, roll the person on their side in case of vomiting during the seizure to prevent choking.
  • Irregular and slowed breathing. Alcohol is a depressant to the central nervous system, which can cause someone to stop breathing. Slow breathing, less than eight breaths per minute is a sign of alcohol poisoning. A sign of irregular breathing is when there are gaps lasting ten seconds or longer between breaths.
  • Hypothermia. Hypothermia, low body temperature is an extremely dangerous symptom of alcohol poisoning. The skin may feel clammy or cold to the touch. The skin will become pale or blue-tinged. When the body temperature has a dramatic drop, it may lead to cardiac arrest.
  • Unconsciousness or passing out and cannot be roused. It is important to remember that even after the person has stopped drinking, the alcohol level in the bloodstream continues to rise. The absence of reflexes while unconscious depresses the gag reflex and increases the risk of choking on vomit. It is common to think that if someone passes out, they will sleep off the effects of the alcohol; however, this instead can lead to a coma and eventually death. The loss of consciousness is the most critical alcohol poisoning symptom as the persons system has begun to shut down due to the high levels of alcohol.

Treatment and helping somebody with alcohol poisoning

The National Health Service (NHS), UK, says that if you believe somebody is suffering from alcohol poisoning you should call for an ambulance, and provide the following assistance until it arrives:
  • Try to keep the individual awake
  • Try to keep them in a sitting position, not lying down
  • If they are able to take it, give them water
  • If the person is unconscious put them in the recovery position and check they are breathing
  • Don't give them coffee, it will worsen their dehydration
  • Do not lie them on their back
  • Do not give them any more alcohol to drink
  • Do not make them walk
In hospital, depending on the patient's BAC level and severity of signs and symptoms, staff may just monitor them until their alcohol levels have dropped. A tube may be inserted into their windpipe to help with breathing, they may be given an intravenous drip to control hydration and blood glucose and vitamin levels, they may be fitted with a urinary catheter if they have become incontinent. In some cases the patient's stomach may be pumped - fluids are flushed through a tube that goes down their mouth or nose.

If the patient, who may sometimes be a child, has unintentionally drunk methanol or isopropyl alcohol and has alcohol poisoning they may need kidney dialysis to speed up the removal of toxins from their system.


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