Available in : Vietnamese
December 1, 2020
The presence of Methanol in drinks is not a new problem in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. Despite the government’s efforts to control the situation these last years, the problem in Vietnam is still there, causing many deaths and remaining a serious health issue. On November 3, 2020, one person died and six were hospitalized due to Methanol poisoning in northern Vietnam.
Every year hospitalizations from Methanol are reported in Vietnam. Symptoms of Methanol poisoning are often non-specific so the diagnosis can be challenging. Commercially-made spirits you buy in the supermarket and specialized boutiques are safe, because in large companies technologies are used to ensure that Methanol is separated from the Ethanol. Unfortunately, the material used in artisanal or small productions in Asia can be very rudimentary and verification isn’t always possible, so Methanol may end up in your glass.
What’s Methanol, and how is it produced?
Methanol is a simple form of alcohol, like Ethanol. However, unlike Ethanol, Methanol is highly toxic and unfit for consumption. All distilled alcohol must be freed from the Methanol it contains.
How is Methanol harmful?
You can’t see it, smell it or taste Methanol, but you understand that you swallowed some when you feel sick a few hours later. When absorbed, it turns into formic acid, and when it’s consumed in large excess, the body does not know how to eliminate it. In response it blocks the nervous system, causing headaches, nausea, respiratory problems, kidney failure, heart problem, liver damage, nerve and brain damage, coma and even death. Ten milliliters (two teaspoons) can blind a person, ingesting 30ml can kill.
What are the signs of Methanol poisoning?
The earliest evidence of Methanol poisoning can be difficult to distinguish from the natural effects of alcohol. In the first hours, the symptoms developed are similar to alcohol intoxication and cause nausea, abdominal pain, and vomiting. Then comes the dangerous stuff. From 10/12 hours, you start to develop a headache, vertigo, and blurred vision, but the problem is that most of the time, because of the other natural effects of alcohol, you’ll fall asleep. The masking of these problems can have serious consequences because it leads to misdiagnosis or critical delays in diagnosis that can kill you.
How is Methanol poisoning cured?
Quickly seek medical help if you fear having been poisoned with methanol. It can be cures by administering Ethanol, which stops the production of formic acid. Fomepizole can also be used to inhibit the conversion of methanol into toxic elements or an hemodialysis can be done to clean your blood.
Available in : Vietnamese