Canadian scientists believe they have found a new and inventive way to treat alcohol poisoning. The scientists have created a device that helps the intoxicated person breathe out the alcohol that is in their system by allowing them to hyperventilate safely.
The device has already been approved by the FDA to treat carbon monoxide poisoning, but more research will need to be done before it is approved for use on patients with alcohol poisoning. Still, the team has had some very interesting results in their initial studies, which were published in Scientific Reports on Thursday.
Researchers believe that breathing out the alcohol will prevent it from being processed by the liver, and be less damaging on the body as a result. The device is necessary to let people hyperventilate properly because without it, a person would lose too much carbon dioxide.
According to study author and inventor Joseph Fisher, the device bypasses these concerns by connecting a supply of oxygen and carbon dioxide through a gas mask that the patient wears.
“With each breath, it is designed to allow the normal amount of carbon dioxide to escape and any excess is returned on the very next breath. This is all done in a simple way by a mechanical valve so it is foolproof—without needing electronics or computers,” Fisher, told Gizmodo.
Fisher and his team tested the device out on five healthy volunteers who got intoxicated and experimented with the device while recording the results. The researchers found that the volunteers who used the device became sober up to three times faster. The researchers used a breathalyzer to determine the results.
Fisher said that this device could possibly even be used on patients who are unconscious.
“The greater the alcohol concentration in the blood, the more effective the method is. If the patient is unconscious, a tube can be placed in the lungs to protect the patient’s breathing, and the method can then be applied manually,” Fischer said.
However, the study only dealt with conscious patients.
The device is known as the ClearMate, and it is already been sold to emergency rooms across the country by Fischer’s company, Thornhill Medical. As of right now, the device is only being used for patients with carbon monoxide poisoning, but this process of safe hyperventilation could likely be useful for many cases of poison or intoxication.
“The method is so simple and obvious that even looking at it, no one recognizes its potential. Hiding in plain sight. I don’t know how else to explain it,” Fischer said.