From holiday hangovers to alcohol poisoning, health experts give advice

(WYDaily file photo/Courtesy of Pixabay)
(Southside Daily file photo/Courtesy of Pixabay)

New Years Eve is often celebrated with toasts, parties, a list of resolutions and a lot of booze.

But hidden beneath that celebratory tone is the potential for over indulging, which may lead to alcohol poisoning. And it can happen to anyone.

“It’s not one particular group,” Dr. Matthew Reynolds, emergency medicine physician at Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News.

“We see young, old, male and female,” Reynolds said regarding patients with alcohol poisoning.

Alcohol poisoning, also called acute alcohol intoxication, is a medical condition caused by drinking too much alcohol. Symptoms include decreased heart rate, low body temperature, difficulty breathing, episodes of vomiting and in some cases, coma or even death.

Andrea Cropper, emergency room manager for Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital said while there are a mix of patients who come to the ER with alcohol poisoning, a majority of patients are juveniles off from school and are hiding the fact they are drinking and occasionally adding drugs to the mix.

“Cold showers, coffee, water don’t really work and get rid of alcohol,” Cooper said.

Cooper said the alcohol levels in the body decrease around 0.03 percent per hour so if you had one drink an hour ago, your body is still metabolizing the alcohol, which means you will feel the symptoms later.

“Call 911 if the person is uncontrollably vomiting or unconscious from alcohol and can’t wake up,” she said.

While there is no good formula to determine how much a person can or should drink, both Reynolds and Cooper agree there are a couple preventative measures a person can take in order to avoid alcohol poisoning and deal with hangovers.

“Hydration is key,” Reynolds said. ” The best way to avoid a hangover is to not drink too much.”

Before you drink:

  • know your limits
  • have a designated driver
  • know what medications you are on and potential side effects
  • avoid drug use

If you drink too much:

  • stop drinking
  • drink more fluids
  • eat something
  • give it time

The day after drinking:

  • drink water
  • get electrolytes in your system
  • eat good, healthy food
  • take ibuprofen or other medicine for headaches
  • give it time

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John Mangalonzo (john@localvoicemedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.