Alcohol Poisoning: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Alcohol poisoning is a term used by many people to refer to alcohol overdose. Alcohol overdose can cause a number of serious health consequences, including coma and death. In addition to the typical symptoms of drunkenness, which begin early in the process, alcohol poisoning also affects breathing, regulation of body temperature, and can lead to seizures. Alcohol also inhibits the gag reflex, which means that people with alcohol overdose may choke on their own vomit. Hypothermia (low body temperature) and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) are complications of alcohol poisoning along with irregular heartbeat and slowed and irregular breathing.

Causes of alcohol poisoning

Alcohol poisoning or overdose results from the consumption of a large amount of alcoholic beverages over a short time, referred to as binge drinking.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/10/2017

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