You can now literally breathe out alcohol from your system, and it'll potentially save you from life-threatening alcohol intoxication.
A team of scientists from the University Health Network in Toronto, Canada, has created the ClearMate device, which is a simple breathing apparatus that could save lives.
People hyperventilate safely into the device, and it helps speed up the process of clearing toxic alcohol levels in the body.
The study was published in Scientific Reports on Thursday.
The liver and lungs team
You can largely thank your liver for processing the alcohol you consume. However, when you've had too much alcohol and your liver can't metabolize it in time for the rest of your body, you can face serious and even life-threatening conditions.
Your lungs, however, also play a little role in this process by naturally eliminating alcohol from your body, too. You know how you can sometimes smell alcohol on yours or others' breath? That's because blood saturated with alcohol reaches your lungs as it's trying to replenish its oxygen levels. So some of this alcohol is then exhaled, along with carbon dioxide.
3 million deaths occur every year as a result of harmful alcohol use. Researchers led by @UHN's Dr. Joseph Fisher present a proof of concept of a simple method that could become a game-changer in rescue therapy for severe alcohol intoxication.— University Health Network (@UHN) November 12, 2020
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This breathing process can be sped up by hyperventilating, but that usually leads a person to pass out. The new device essentially recreates this hyperventilating so as to speed up the process without having the person pass out.
The study's author and the device's inventor, Dr. Joseph Fisher, said that ClearMate keeps the person safe, especially when passed out from overconsumption of alcohol. All the person has to do is wear a gas mask that's connected to a supply of oxygen and carbon dioxide.
"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" explained Fisher, an anesthesiologist and senior researcher at University Health Network to Gizmodo.
"This is all done in a simple way by a mechanical valve so it is foolproof—without needing electronics or computers."
A team of researchers led by @UHN's Dr. Joseph Fisher have discovered a new way to speed up the body’s ability to rid itself of alcohol, a discovery that could help reduce the life-threatening effects of alcohol poisoning via @globeandmail. https://t.co/heEQUYMwe9— University Health Network (@UHN) November 12, 2020
So far, the team tested its device on five volunteers, which showed the device to work faster and better than if the body did it on its own. Even though this sample test size is small, ClearMate has already been recognized by the Food and Drug Administration to be used in emergency rooms in the U.S., per Gizmodo.
"It's a very basic, low-tech device that could be made anywhere in the world: no electronics, no computers or filters are required," said Dr. Fisher. "It's almost inexplicable why we didn't try this decades ago."