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How much is too much alcohol?

One night of binge drinking, while seemingly harmless, may end up killing you.

Gastroenterologist Benny Ang said that most men can stomach two units of alcohol – two beers, two shots of whisky or two glasses of wine – a day.

For most women, their limit is one unit of alcohol a day.

Exceed that,and the drinker will have difficulty balancing, and will start to slur and suffer from blurred vision.

But it starts to get dangerous when blood alcohol levels reach 400mg/100ml – usually after five drinks within two hours.

This is when a person crosses over from harmless intoxication to alcohol poisoning.

Alcohol poisoning is a condition when a person has exceeded the limit of alcohol his or her body can take.

At this point, said Dr Ang, the alcohol would affect the person’s nerves and brain, causing the drinker to become stuporous or comatose.

It would be difficult to rouse him or her.

Their heart rate would be slowed, and blood will not be pumped to the rest of their body. This would lead to darkened skin and cold,clammy hands and feet, said Dr Ang.

Other symptoms would include shallow breathing,and dulled reflexes.

It can get so bad, the gag reflex does not work, and may cause the person suffering from alcohol poisoning to suffocate on his or her vomit.

Dr Ang said: “If someone is suffering from alcohol poisoning, you should lie him on his side, instead of letting him lie on the back. This way, if he vomits, he will not choke on the vomit.

“Complications can also arise if drinkers already have heart or respiratory problems.”

Dr Ang said: “While I tell my patients that their bodies can handle two units of alcohol in a day, some think that it is all right to drink 10 units at a go since they have not drunk alcohol for five days.

“But it’s not like that. Binge drinking is very dangerous, and it can definitely kill you.” And if you think you’ll be fine if you eat before you drink, think again.

Gastroenterologist Tan Chi Chiu of Gleneagles Medical Centre said: “Having food in your stomach insignificantly slows alcohol from entering your bloodstream.”

He added that drinking black coffee, taking a cold shower, walking it off or letting the victim sleep it off are purported remedies that do not work and can be dangerous.

He said: “If you suspect someone of having alcohol poisoning, call for an ambulance immediately. Even when someone has stopped drinking, alcohol continues to be released into the bloodstream and the level of alcohol in the body continues to rise.

“Never assume that a person will sleep off alcohol poisoning.”

Dr Tan added that teens and students are most likely to binge drink, and because many are first-time or inexperienced drinkers, they are particularly vulnerable to the effects of alcohol.

However, the majority of deaths from alcohol poisoning occur in people aged 45 to 54.

More women bingeing now

He said: “Traditionally, men have been more likely to have alcohol poisoning – and to binge drink – than women.

“In recent years, however, the gap has narrowed. More women are drinking than in the past,and more are binge drinking.

“The smaller and thinner the body, the quicker it absorbs alcohol, making a drinker more susceptible to alcohol poisoning.

“Having health problems, such as heart disease or diabetes, makes a drinker more vulnerable.”

Dr Ang, who has also noticed a hike in the number of female drinkers, said: “With pubs having happy hour and ladies night, young career women might be the next group with a problem with alcoholism.

“They should realise that they cannot handle alcohol as well as men.”

source: The New Paper

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