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Fractures of the Skull Face and Jaw
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Unconscious Casualty
If You Have to Move the Casualty

Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol depresses the central nervous system, which is the centre of our thoughts, feelings and senses, and responsible for coordinating all movement and body processes. In the early stages of drinking, this creates a relaxed feeling and impression of increased confidence. Continued drinking can affect the ability to make rational decisions and, as consumption increases, slow down breathing and even cause loss of consciousness. The effect of alcohol on the body is affected by factors including weight, body fat and history of alcohol intake. What may be a safe level for one person may have serious effects for another.

Effects of high intake

There are four key risks following a high alcohol intake:

  • Injury, following poor decision-making and clumsiness.
  • Vomiting, leading to choking in an unconscious person.
  • Hypothermia - alcohol dilates the blood vessels, making exposure to the cold a greater risk.
  • Slower breathing and, ultimately, breathing stopping.

Signs and symptoms

  • What has happened. Consider this carefully - a person who has suffered a head injury or stroke may show similar signs and symptoms to somebody who is drunk
  • Strong smell of alcohol
  • Lapsing in and our of consciousness. Rousable at first but eventually slipping into full unconsciousness
  • Red, sweating face
  • Deep, noisy breathing - sounds of snoring
  • Strong, fast pulse

Eventually, breathing may become shallower and the pulse weaker and faster.


  1. Monitor and maintain the person's airway and breathing. Be prepared to resuscitate the person if necessary.
  2. If the person becomes unconscious, place into the recovery position. The person is extremely likely to be sick, so watch carefully for signs of vomit and remove from the mouth as needed.
  3. If the person is conscious, help into a comfortable position and encourage him or her to keep still.
  4. Check for additional injury and give treatment as appropriate.
  5. Protect from extremes of cold to reduce the risk of hypothermia developing. If the
    person is unconscious, you suspect further injury, you are worried that other substances may have been consumed or you have any other doubts as to their condition, call an ambulance. Do not underestimate the risk of alcohol poisoning.

If you do not feel that an ambulance is necessary, ensure that the person is not left alone, that the airway and breathing are regularly checked and that the casualty is in a safe, warm place until he is better.

Long-term effects of alcohol

Drinking alcohol within safe limits may be beneficial for health, helping to protect against stroke and heart disease, but if you have more than a couple of alcoholic drinks a day, there are more risks than benefits.

  • Weight gain: alcohol contains many calories and regular drinkers often put on weight.
  • Reduced intellectual function: brain cells that control memory and learning are damaged by alcohol. Alcohol is also damaging to mental health causing increased anxiety and depression.
  • Increased risk of developing many types of cancer (this risk is even higher if you smoke as well).
  • Increased risk of circulatory disorders such as high blood pressure and stroke.
  • Reduced fertility in both men and women and damage to the foetus if you drink heavily during pregnancy.
  • Damage to the liver and other organs; digestive problems such as ulcers.

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Disclaimer: website is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. Always take the advice of professional health care for specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment. We will not be liable for any complications, or other medical accidents arising from the use of any information on this web site. Please note that medical information is constantly changing. Therefore some information may be out of date.