Acute Ethanol Intoxication and Hangover

Ethanol intoxication is probably the best-known form of drug toxicity. Intoxicated individuals are a threat to themselves and others, particularly if they attempt to drive or operate machinery. Although death can result from ethanol overdose, usually the patient lapses into a coma before ingesting lethal quantities. Ethanol intoxication is sometimes mistakenly diagnosed as diabetic coma, schizophrenia, overdosage of other CNS depressant drugs, or skull fracture. An additional feature commonly associated with excessive ethanol consumption is difficulty in regulating body temperature. Hypothermia frequently results, with body temperature falling toward that of the ambient environment. This problem can be particularly severe in the elderly, who normally have difficulty regulating their body temperature.

One of the consequences of ethanol intoxication is the hangover, a condition characterized by headache, nausea, sweating, and tremor. Although unpleasant, a hangover is not dangerous, even though the person having one may feel otherwise.

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