Risk Factors of Alcohol Poisoning

ID-10071649There are several factors, which increase the risk of alcohol poisoning. The risk factors of alcohol poisoning are:

  • Type of alcohol you drink: different types of alcohol brands contain different percentage of alcohol content. Human body also metabolizes alcohol in a different way. It takes approximately one hour to metabolize 12 ounces (approximately 360 ml) or beer, 5 ounces (approximately 150 ml) of wine and 1.5 ounce (approximately 45 ml) of 80-proof distilled spirits. So, if you drink 12 ounces of beer, your body will require one hour to metabolize it, whereas if you drink 12 ounces of80-proof distilled spirits, it will take much longer (approximately 8 hours) for your body to metabolize it and the risk of alcohol poisoning increases.
  • Tolerance level to alcohol: individuals who drink regularly can metabolize alcohol better (due to synthesis of higher amounts of metabolizing enzymes in liver), as a result, they need to consume more alcohol to get alcohol poisoning. However, regular drinkers are also susceptible to get alcohol poisoning.
  • Rate of alcohol intake: the faster you consume alcohol (especially alcohol brands with high absolute alcohol content) the higher is the risk of alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning may occur even if you stop drinking after consuming large quantity of alcohol.
  • Age of drinker: the most susceptible age for alcohol poisoning is between 35 to 55 years of age. Although teenagers and college students may drink large quantities of alcohol in one sitting, they can metabolize alcohol better than older individuals metabolize and have lower risk of alcohol poisoning.
  • Sex of drinker: males can metabolize alcohol better than females. But men are at higher risk of alcohol poisoning due to binge drinking being more common among males.
  • General health of the drinker: general health plays an important role in alcohol poisoning. Individuals with better general health have lower risk of alcohol poisoning, even after binge drinking. Risk of alcohol poisoning is higher if you have health problems such as diabetes, heart disease. Diabetics are prone to develop hypoglycemia (low blood sugar level) if they consume alcohol and the effect of alcohol (hypoglycemia) may be present even 12 hours after stopping drinking.
  • Medications used: taking certain medications (including prescription medications such as metronidazole) and alcohol simultaneously may increase risk of alcohol poisoning.
  • Food in stomach: drinking on empty stomach has higher risk of alcohol poisoning. Presence of food in stomach slows down absorption of alcohol from stomach, but do not prevent alcohol poisoning, if consumed in large quantities.

Alcohol poisoning and alcoholism is a serious and sometimes fatal problem and should be handled as medical emergency. Get medical help immediately if you suspect anyone to be suffering from alcohol poisoning.

Image courtesy of Rosen Georgiev /



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