What are the possible complications of 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

Ethanol ingestion complications include the following:

  • Hypoglycemia is common. [29]  The etiology is multifactorial but largely related to decreased glycogen stores and malnutrition in children and chronic alcoholics, as well as ethanol’s inhibition of glycogenolysis.

  • Patients with acute intoxication may exhibit "holiday heart," in which dysrhythmias, especially atrial fibrillation, occur following a heavy drinking episode. Ethanol lowers the threshold for developing atrial fibrillation.

  • Cirrhosis, esophageal varices, and erosive gastritis are common in patients who use ethanol on a frequent basis.

Complications of other alcohols include the following:

  • Ingestion of isopropanol is associated with hemorrhagic gastritis.

  • Ingestion of methanol is associated with blindness, acidosis, coma, cardiovascular collapse, and death. [18]

  • Ingestion of ethylene glycol is associated with renal failure, acidosis, coma, cardiovascular collapse, and death. [25]


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