What are the signs and symptoms of ethanol alcohol toxicity?

Updated: Jan 05, 2021
  • Author: Michael D Levine, MD; Chief Editor: Jeter (Jay) Pritchard Taylor, III, MD  more...
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Answer

The symptoms of ethanol intoxication depend on both the serum concentration as well as the frequency at which an individual ingests ethanol. Thus, a person who consumes large amounts of ethanol on a daily basis may appear sober at the same serum ethanol level at which a novice drinker exhibits cerebellar dysfunction.

As a general rule, levels less than 25 mg/dL are associated with a sense of warmth and well-being. Euphoria and decreased judgment occur at levels between 25-50 mg/dL. Incoordination, decreased reaction time/reflexes, and ataxia occur at levels of 50-100 mg/dL. Cerebellar dysfunction (ie, ataxia, slurred speech, nystagmus) are common at levels of 100-250 mg/dL. Coma can occur at levels of greater than 250 mg/dL, whereas respiratory depression, loss of protective reflexes, and death occur at levels greater than 400 mg/dL.


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