Glasses Raised in a ToastExcessive drinking at a funeral in Vietnam's Mekong Delta Kien Giang Province has killed three people and hospitalized 11 more. After several days of heavy drinking at the funeral, three of the patients were admitted to the hospital with symptoms ranging from headaches and vomiting to convulsions and loss of consciousness. Eleven of the patients had milder symptoms and were successfully treated.

The funeral was four days long and consisted of heavy drinking throughout. Approximately 150 people attended the funeral and consumed about 100 liters of alcohol (about 26.4 gallons). Investigators tested samples of the alcohol and found that the alcohol contained 36 times the amount of methanol legally allowed. The wine drunk at the funeral was purchased from a local grocery store.

Funeral Service

The funeral service was for a person who passed from suspected alcohol poisoning. He had been partying with friends when he started feeling dizzy and experiencing chest pains. He died shortly after, though none of his friends experienced any symptoms of alcohol poisoning. Whether he died from alcohol poisoning or other health complications has not yet been determined.

Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol poisoning can be hard to recognize because the early symptoms resemble intoxication. For example, early signs include vomiting, dizziness, and confusion. Later, symptoms such as loss of consciousness, long gaps in breathing, and hypothermia can appear.

In the most severe cases, seizures start to occur as the methanol in the alcohol begins to destroy the nervous system. Then, without prompt treatment, the patient goes into multi-organ failure and slips into a coma. At this point, the damage is often irreversible.

Drinking in Vietnam

Drinking is a common pastime and social event in Vietnam, so much so that the residents of that country have a word for it. Nhau means to feast and drink with friends for no reason. The Vietnamese also often use drinking as an icebreaker to get to know new people or make new friends. In addition, beer is used as a key ingredient in several Vietnamese dishes.

Unfortunately, alcohol poisoning isn't uncommon in Vietnam. With alcohol not being closely regulated, it isn't unusual for wine or beer purchased from local grocery stores to contain more methanol than permitted. This drastically increases the chances of complications such as alcohol poisoning.

In a similar case, two brothers were admitted to the hospital last July with alcohol poisoning; neither one survived. A third person at the same party was also taken to the hospital several days later. They had all been drinking late into the night and were admitted to the hospital when what they assumed were hangover symptoms did not subside.

How To Avoid Drinking Too Much

Alcohol poisoning is an extreme version of drinking too much, but even hangovers in the morning after a night of heavy drinking can be miserable. However, there are some things you can do to help prevent overdrinking.

At the beginning of the evening, setting a limit on drinks can be helpful. However, the more drinks you have, the more difficult it can be to stick to this limit. Ask someone to hold you accountable so you don't overindulge. 

Avoid drinking on an empty stomach. Eating will slow down the alcohol's effects. Additionally, sip slowly and pace yourself. Drinking water while you drink can also help to prevent dehydration and, in turn, help to prevent a hangover. 

The dangers of alcohol poisoning should not be underestimated. If you or anyone you know experiences symptoms such as low body temperature, irregular breathing, or loss of consciousness, seek immediate medical care. Alcohol poisoning is a medical emergency, and prompt treatment is crucial to prevent irreversible organ damage and death.

Category: Funeral

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