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Alcohol Intoxication

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Alcohol intoxication is a harmful physical condition caused when you drink more alcohol than your body can handle. It is also called ethanol poisoning, or being drunk.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Psychiatric assessment:

Caregivers will ask if you have a history of psychological trauma, such as physical, sexual, or mental abuse. They will ask if you were given the care that you needed. Caregivers will ask you if you have been a victim of a crime or natural disaster, or if you have a serious injury or disease. They will ask you if you have seen other people being harmed, such as in combat. You will be asked if you drink alcohol or use drugs at present or in the past. Caregivers will ask you if you want to hurt or kill yourself or others. How you answer these questions can help caregivers decide on treatment. To help during treatment, caregivers will ask you about such things as how you feel about it and your hobbies and goals. Caregivers will also ask you about the people in your life who support you.

A pulse oximeter

is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your blood. A cord with a clip or sticky strip is placed on your finger, ear, or toe. The other end of the cord is hooked to a machine.

Vital signs:

Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your current health.

Intake and output:

Healthcare providers will keep track of the amount of liquid you are getting. Ask your healthcare provider how much liquid you should have each day. You may need to increase or decrease the amount of liquid you have every day. Healthcare providers may also need to know how much you are urinating. Ask if they need to measure or collect your urine before you dispose of it.

An IV

is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

Medicines:

  • Sedative: This medicine is given to help you stay calm and relaxed.
  • Anticonvulsant medicine: This medicine is given to control seizures. Take this medicine exactly as directed.
  • Antinausea medicine: This medicine may be given to calm your stomach and prevent vomiting.
  • Glucose: This medicine may be given to increase the amount of sugar in your blood.
  • Vitamin B1: This is also called Thiamine. You may be given vitamin B1 if your levels are low from excess alcohol.

Tests:

  • Blood and urine tests: Samples of your blood or urine are sent to a lab. The samples are tested for alcohol and for signs of liver, kidney, or heart damage caused by alcohol. You may need to have these tests more than once.
  • Neurologic exam: This is also called neuro signs, neuro checks, or neuro status. A neurologic exam can show caregivers how well your brain works after an injury or illness. Caregivers will check how your pupils (black dots in the center of each eye) react to light. They may check your memory and how easily you wake up. Your hand grasp and balance may also be tested.

Treatment:

  • Brief intervention therapy: A healthcare provider meets with you to discuss ways to control your risky behaviors, such as drinking and driving. This therapy also helps you set goals to decrease the amount of alcohol you drink.
  • Breathing support:
    • You may need extra oxygen if your blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. You may get oxygen through a mask placed over your nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in your nostrils. Ask your healthcare provider before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.
    • A ventilator is a machine that gives you oxygen and breathes for you when you cannot breathe well on your own. An endotracheal (ET) tube is put into your mouth or nose and attached to the ventilator. You may need a trach if an ET tube cannot be placed. A trach is a tube put through an incision and into your windpipe.

RISKS:

Alcohol intoxication puts you at risk for disease and injury. Alcohol can damage your brain, liver, heart, kidneys, and lungs. You may be more likely to act violently when you are intoxicated. You may break the law, or harm yourself and others. Risky sexual behavior could lead to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Alcohol intoxication and poisoning can put you into a coma (sleep that you cannot wake up from) and may be life-threatening.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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