Vital Signs: Staying safe on St. Patrick’s Day

By Anna Kellaher
Columnist

Next week is St. Patrick’s Day — a day associated with celebrating Irish culture, the color green and, for many people, binge drinking.

Binge drinking is defined as the consumption of four drinks in two hours for women and five drinks in two hours for men.

In the short term, this kind of excessive drinking increases the risk of car crashes, sexual assault and injury.

Binge drinking over the long term can damage the liver and other organs as well.

Eating before consuming alcohol reduces the risk of alcohol poisoning (Flickr).

These guidelines from the University of Iowa’s Student Health Services will help keep you safe and responsible as you celebrate.

Stay hydrated — drink one glass of water between each drink. Alcohol inhibits your body’s ability to retain water.

You might notice this effect when you find yourself urinating more frequently during a night of drinking.

Eat before drinking. Having food in your stomach will slow down how fast alcohol is absorbed in your stomach.

Try to limit yourself to one drink per hour. Not all drinks are created equally. One drink is equivalent to 12 ounces of beer (a standard can or bottle), 4 ounces of wine, or 1 ounce of hard liquor.  

Watch out for signs that you or a friend has consumed too much alcohol.

Signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning, according to the Mayo Clinic, include but are not limited to confusion, vomiting, slow or irregular breathing (less than eight breaths per minute), blue-tinged,  pale skin or passing out.

If someone you are with experiences any of these symptoms, immediately call 911 and do not leave them alone.  

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