Doctors Save Man From Alcohol Poisoning By Administering 15 Cans Of Beer
This may sound counter-intuitive, but stick with us on this.
The incident took place at General Hospital in the central Vietnamese province of Quang Tri. In a bid to save the life of 48-year-old Nguyen Van Nhat, medics administered 15 cans of beer.
The level of methanol in Mr Nhat's blood was 1,119 times higher than the appropriate limit, according to Dr Le Van Lam, head of the hospital's Intensive Care Unit.
Doctors immediately transfused three cans (one litre) of beer to slow down Mr Nhat's liver's processing of methanol. From then on, one can of beer was given to him every hour.
After a whopping 15 cans were administered, Mr Nhat was completely conscious.
So how does giving someone more alcohol help treat alcohol poisoning?
Well, essentially there are two different types of alcohol: ethanol and methanol.
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Ethanol is the one commonly found in beer, wine and spirits. In small doses it makes you drunk, in large ones it can make you sick.
Methanol, on the other hand, is inadvertently created when making some homemade spirits. It is much more dangerous than ethanol, and can lead to blindness or even death, according to Vice.
That's because methanol oxidises to form formaldehyde, which then becomes formic acid - which is what rendered Mr Nhat unconscious.
Even when someone has stopped drinking, alcohol continues to be released into the bloodstream, causing blood alcohol levels to continue to rise and increasing the risk of methanol poisoning.
The body prioritises breaking down ethanol over methanol. That's why administering beer to Mr Nhat meant the toxic effects of the methanol were slowed down.
Dr Lam explained that this gave medics time to perform dialysis before Mr Nhat suffered further harmful effects from alcohol poisoning.
Public Health England's advice for managing methanol poisoning states: "Absorption of methanol is rapid, but the onset of metabolic toxic features may be delayed for several hours, particularly if co-ingested with ethanol which delays methanol metabolism due to competitive inhibition."
That's good news for Mr Nhat - the doctors' unconventional treatment might just have saved his life.
Featured Image Credit: AsiaWire
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