Blood Alcohol Levels: What They Mean and Why They Matter

Do you want to learn more about blood alcohol levels?

Did you know that the US is the second leading country in alcohol consumption in the world? It’s the second-highest country after China. The average American adult drinks 2.3 gallons of alcohol per year today.

There are occasions when it’s okay for your blood level to reflect high alcohol consumption. However, if you’re going to a public place, driving, or joining a treatment program, you need to control your BAC. Continue to learn everything you need to know about blood alcohol levels and more.

What Does Blood Alcohol Level Mean?

The blood alcohol level is the measurement used to determine how much alcohol you have in your body. It focuses on the ratio of alcohol in your blood.

To get an accurate measurement of alcohol in your system, you need to take a blood alcohol test first. Others refer to it as BAC, or blood alcohol concentration or blood alcohol content.

Let’s say that you have a BAC that measures 0.10%. If this is the case, then 1000 parts of your blood are equal to one drop of alcohol. If you have a high BAC, it may mean you’re toeing or crossed the line of alcohol abuse. If you got tested and the results showed that you have a low BAC, you’re still okay.

Effects of Having a Certain Blood Alcohol Level

To see how alcohol affects the body at different amounts, let’s look at what happens when you reach certain BACs. Before we continue, remember that 0.08 BAC is the legal limit. Having blood alcohol levels any higher than that can make you a criminal.

At 0.02 BAC, you’ll start feeling relaxed and quick to get distracted. You’ll lose track of the movements of other things and will also lose some of your judgment. The next is at 0.05 BAC. At this point, you’ll lose small muscle control.

Your eyes will start losing focus and tracking moving objects. If you’re steering, your reaction time is poorer. If you need to brake or move the car around a blockage, the reaction is a little delayed.

The next level is 0.08 BAC, which is the legal limit for blood alcohol levels. Here, you’ll have poorer muscle coordination, balance, reaction time, and danger detection. At this point, you’ll have slurred speech, loss of acuity in vision and hearing, and impaired judgment.

If you keep drinking, your BAC may reach 0.10 BAC. Your risk of injuries is at a much higher rate here. At this point, you mustn’t be behind the wheel of a car or commandeering any other vehicle.

When your BAC reaches 0.15, you’ll start losing balance and muscle control. For most people, this is the point where they start vomiting. Paying attention and controlling a vehicle become issues if you try to drive in this state.

Factors That Affect a Person’s Blood Alcohol Level

The amount of alcohol you drink in an hour, day, or week isn’t the only thing that impacts your BAC. Your BAC may also differ depending on the type of alcohol that you consumed. As you can guess, some drinks are more potent than others.

How fast you drink and how much you drink within a certain period will also impact the levels of your BAC. Other factors that affect BAC include:

  • Your body weight
  • Fat/muscle content
  • Metabolism
  • Conditions (like diabetes)
  • Altitude
  • If you have food in your stomach
  • Whether you are male or female
  • Size of the drink
  • Alcohol tolerance
  • Medications
  • Fatigue
  • Stress
  • Mood
  • Type of mix (like juice or water)
  • Frequency of your drinking

When you undergo a blood alcohol test, there are various ways to do it. These include using your blood, breath, urine, hair, saliva, and more. These are the easiest symptoms to look out for.

Why Do You Need to Know Your Blood Alcohol Levels?

While there isn’t an issue with having a small amount of alcohol before you drive, some people abuse this. Plus, they don’t give their bodies time to metabolize the alcohol before they operate a vehicle.

In the US, 28 people die in DUI cases each day. The tragic part is that deaths caused by drunk driving are all preventable. When you drink and go to public places or drive, authorities may suspect you of going over the legal limit.

If you want to prove that you are still legal to drive, you need to take a blood-alcohol test. Authorities will first look at the most obvious symptoms of intoxication. They’ll check for signs like:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Slowed reflexes
  • Difficulty with balance and coordination
  • Mood changes
  • Poor judgment

They may also ask you to see a healthcare professional. The doctor or nurse will take a blood sample from your arm to perform a blood test. This method is quick, and the only pain you’ll feel will come from the needle used to take a small amount of blood.

If a professional must take a blood sample from you, the best timeframe to do it is a few hours within your last drink. Your body metabolizes the alcohol, as well. When you wait too long before taking a BAC test, the chances are that it’ll become null because of the time passed.

What Do You Need a Blood Alcohol Test For?

You can use blood alcohol tests as proof that you didn’t do underage drinking or drunk driving in the US. Drivers under 21 years cannot have any alcohol in their system while driving. Yet, drivers 21 and older can have alcohol that follows the 0.08 BAC limit.

When a law enforcer discovers that your BAC is over the legal limit, they can punish you for driving under the influence. If you want to prove otherwise, you can go to a healthcare professional to get tested. Don’t forget to approach for legal aid in your case.

Blood alcohol tests also get used for checking on alcohol poisoning or drinking while under a treatment program.

Keep Your Blood Alcohol Levels in Check

Those are the reasons why blood alcohol levels are important. We hope you now know why you need to learn about and understand BACs.

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