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Severe hypotension and hypothermia caused by acute ethanol toxicity

By E Wilson and W S Waring


This article reports the time course and clinical features of acute ethanol poisoning in an elderly man who had previously abstained from alcohol. Several hours after ingestion, severe hypotension and hypothermia developed, and the consciousness level was reduced. Supportive measures were sufficient to allow the patient's blood pressure and temperature to recover by 24 h post ingestion. The clinical manifestations of ethanol toxicity are often confounded by coexistent drug ingestion and variable periods of unconsciousness before arrival at hospital. This case highlights that hypotension and hypothermia may be explained on the basis of severe ethanol poisoning alone, in the absence of any other contributing factors. Clinical features of poisoning may be delayed by several hours and, therefore, patients presenting at the hospital should be considered for observation for at least 4 h after consumption of potentially toxic quantities. More severe toxicity should be anticipated in patients who normally abstain from alcohol

Topics: Emergency Casebook
Publisher: BMJ Group
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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