Anonymous asked in Science & MathematicsMedicine · 1 decade ago

What's the difference between acute alcohol intoxication and alcohol poisoning?

At a party last night I drank too much too fast and past out cold. My friends found me unconscious and with shallow breathing and called 911. They didn't pump my stomach at the hospital, just gave me IV fluids, and potassium. In my discharge paperwork it said I suffered acute alcohol intoxication, is that the same as alcohol poisoning?

8 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Typically when you hear the term acute put in front of a medical issue, it just means sudden onset. So, acute alcohol intoxication would just mean that a patient became intoxicated in a very short time period (shorter than typical). You have have acute alcohol intoxication and not have alcohol poisoning. People get intoxicated on an acute basis every day (think of college and drinking games, and there you go).

    It is when this acute alcohol intoxication exceeds the specific patent's specific threshold, when you run into alcohol poisoning, where it will be necessary to obtain medical care. Depending on the patent's condition (how bad the case of poisoning is) will depict what treatment they require.

    Most likely you did not have alcohol poisoning, as if you did, they would have listed that as your diagnosis. Instead they listed acute alcohol intoxication which like I said is not the same thing. Now had you not gotten to the hospital in time, then it is possible that you could have ended up with alcohol poisoning, but because they were able to rehydrate you in time, they were able to stop the progression of the alcohol's toxicity on your body.

    It is good that you are ok, but in the future just try to be a little more careful. Nothing wrong with having fun, just pace yourself and know what your limits are, and always have someone around who is sober, just in case such an event happens.

    EDIT: Just as an FYI these two are not interchangable, so I have to respectfully disagree, as the two have different chart codes and different treatment protocols. Please see below for general description:

    What is the treatment for alcohol intoxication?

    Replacing fluids that are lost as a result of the increased urination associated with drinking is often used to treat alcohol intoxication. Doctors frequently use fluids that contain sugars for that purpose.

    What is alcohol poisoning?

    Alcohol poisoning is the potentially fatal result of drinking excessive amounts of alcohol in a short period of time. It is caused by alcohol slowing down the body's functions (for example, breathing, heart rate, and gag reflex), thereby potentially leading to choking, coma, stopped breathing, stopped heart, and death. Treatment involves getting the person to the hospital immediately so he or she can be closely watched by medical professionals, given oxygen and fluids, and so that other measures can be taken in order to prevent choking, as well as stopped breathing or heart beat.

    Once you have consumed even a few alcoholic drinks you are "intoxicated" as you have consumed a toxic compound. So if these two terms were truly interchangable then you would have to then say that someone suffering from accute alcohol intoxication (maybe they drank 2 beers in an hour) would also have alcohol poisoning, and of course this is not going to be the case at all.

    Acute alcohol intoxication (symptom description): Acute alcohol intoxication is listed as a type of or related-symptom for symptom Alcohol abuse.

    Acute alcohol intoxication (symptom description): For a medical symptom description of 'Acute alcohol intoxication', the following symptom information may be relevant to the symptoms: Alcohol abuse (type of symptom). However, note that other causes of the symptom 'Acute alcohol intoxication' may be possible.

    Alcohol poisoning: A condition in which a toxic amount of alcohol (ethanol, ethyl alcohol) has been drunk, usually in a short period of time. The toxicity is related to the blood level of the alcohol.

    The individual may become extremely disoriented, unresponsive or unconscious, with shallow breathing.

    Because alcohol poisoning can be fatal, emergency treatment is urgently needed.

    Treatment for alcohol piosoning:

    Once medical personnel have responded to the call for assistance, the drinker will almost always be taken to a hospital where the treatment for alcohol poisoning consists of pumping the person's stomach. Pumping the stomach, also known as or gastric lavage or gastric irrigation, involves inserting a tube in the person's nose or mouth and passing it down into the stomach. After the tube has reached the stomach, the administration and removal of small amounts of warm water or saline is repeated until the returning fluid does not contain any more gastric contents.

    Basically it is a fine line between the two. They have two codes, and two protocols for treatment and therefore are technically different. You can be admitted with acute alcohol intoxication and usually just get some IV fluids and have a little counsel session from the hospital counseler. Whereas with the acute acohol poisoning you are looking at more serious treamtment protocols, because the patient is in more serious of a condition. This is all based on your serum or blood tox screen levels of ethyl aclohol and metabolites present, your age, weight, medical condition and history, as well as metabolic rate and other patient specific criteria.

    The line is hazy, and one can present with acute alcohol intoxication and it can progress into alchol posioning rapidly if the patient has not gotten medical treatment in time.

    Peer-Reviewed Journal Article for more information:

    Source(s): Toxicologist, MD, Ph.D Cornell School of Medicine
  • 4 years ago

    Acute Alcohol Intoxication

  • smolen
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Alcohol Poisoning Definition

  • Anonymous
    6 years ago

    This Site Might Help You.


    What's the difference between acute alcohol intoxication and alcohol poisoning?

    At a party last night I drank too much too fast and past out cold. My friends found me unconscious and with shallow breathing and called 911. They didn't pump my stomach at the hospital, just gave me IV fluids, and potassium. In my discharge paperwork it said I suffered acute alcohol...

    Source(s): 39 difference acute alcohol intoxication alcohol poisoning:
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  • 1 decade ago

    Except that you can be mildly drunk, there's no essential difference. Alcohol "poisoning" is just a popular, not a medical, term.

    Why would you think they'd have pumped your stomach? Alcohol is almost immediately and completely absorbed when it's consumed, so there would be no point. As a matter of fact, there's only a very small list of poisons for which gastric lavage is indicated, and they almost never are encountered.

    The only really important thing was to make sure you kept breathing. The treatment you got was simply working on minor details, and you can count yourself lucky that you didn't need real treatment, which would be orotracheal intubation and mechanical ventilation until you sobered up.

  • gallop
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    The tox- in intoxication means poison. Intoxication means you have a condition caused by taking in a poison. Alcohol intoxication can be used interchangeably with alcohol poisoning. Acute refers to this being a one time, short term episode as opposed to chronic, which denotes a long term, ongoing condition. So, there is no difference in the meanings of the terms. On a death certificate you may find either terminology used to describe cause of death. Fortunately in this case, you were able to be treated and to recover. is a link to some information which I think you will find interesting.

    And another...................

    And one more.............

    Add....a person who has had a couple beers is not classified as suffering acute alcohol intoxication in medical or psychiatric practice. The terminology is used to describe alcohol poisonings where the patient is exhibiting specific signs and symptoms.

    You have to differentiate between the more general reference to alcohol intoxication, and what is meant by acute alcohol intoxication in medical practice.

    The question addresses acute alcohol intoxication

    Source(s): RN
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    "Acute alcohol intoxication" is pretty much interchangeable with alcohol poisoning.

    I believe the only reason that medical professionals use the longer term is to distinguish between acute alcohol intoxication and chronic alcohol intoxication, which means dependence on alcohol. Both can be classified under alcohol poisoning.

    It's actually rather uncommon for hospitals to pump your stomach now a days--they usually give people activated charcoal instead.

    I hope this helps.

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    5 years ago

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