A lot of Iowans will be celebrating the arrival of a new year with a few cocktails tonight. An emergency room doctor is reminding those people to keep their alcohol consumption in check.
Doctor Michael Wadman, with the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, says too many drinks can drastically change a person’s behavior – making it harder to make good decisions. “So, that does lead to risks for injury to yourself and more importantly, other innocent folks around you,” Wadman says. “It can affect the heart. Even drinking on a single occasion can damage the heart, leading to different types of irregular heartbeats. Over the long term, it can cause damage to the heart muscle and it definitely affects the liver.”
Emergency room visits for alcohol poisoning typically increase around the holidays, according to Wadman. “Someone with alcohol poisoning has very slow and irregular breathing, down fewer than six to eight breaths per minute. There’s hypothermia, a low body temperature, a bluish or pale or cool skin…those combinations of symptoms is what we typically see with alcohol poisoning,” Wadman says. The initial signs of alcohol poisoning might involve confusion, vomiting, and seizures.
Wadman says if you see someone passed out from too much drinking, they should be taken to a hospital. “When someone passes out from alcohol intake, that’s a dangerous situation,” Wadman says. “You might think it’s fine to just let them sleep it off, but when a person is that impaired, it’s important that person gets medical attention.” Wadman adds, for those suffering from a hangover on New Year’s Day, they’ll just have to suffer. He says there isn’t a “magic cure” for a hangover.