How does an alcoholic coma?

How does an alcoholic coma

Learn how the drink is processed and what happens to the body with each gram of blood alcohol

It occurs when we ingest more alcohol than the body can metabolize. The liver takes an average of one hour to process a drink, but this time may vary according to weight, height, physique and gender. In women, the estimated time is almost two hours.

“The body is responsible for turning alcohol into glucose, which gives us energy. But in the case of a large amount of drink, it does not work properly and the person ends up intoxicated, “explains Paulo Olzon, general practitioner at Unifesp.

With this, some organs, such as the brain, heart, stomach and kidneys, are affected. And there are several symptoms, from slurred speech to unconsciousness. In more severe cases, too much alcohol can lead to death.


The body takes an average of one hour to absorb the alcohol. But time (and effects) may vary depending on some factors, such as how fast the person consumed the drink. Eating before drinking reduces by up to three times the rate of absorption compared to consumption on an empty stomach. The type of food ingested also influences.

After the alcohol falls into the bloodstream, it is transported to all tissues that contain water. That is why the highest concentrations of the substance are in the liver, heart, kidneys, stomach and muscles. And since women have less water in the body, alcohol is distributed and metabolized faster and its effects are more intense.

The liver, with its enzymes, is able to metabolize between 90 and 95% of the alcohol ingested. A man of 70 kg, for example, can eliminate about 20 ml of ethanol every hour (equivalent to 340 ml of beer or 170 ml of wine).

Alcohol is eliminated through the urine, but 5% is expelled by breathing, saliva and sweat. The substance may even increase diuresis and the urge to pee, since it inhibits the hormone that controls water reabsorption.

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