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Heavy smoker and alcoholic, had episode of cough, choking, unconscious for a while. Indications of something severe?

Hi My fiance is a heavy smoker and drinker. The other night, he started coughing and it appeared he was then choking (later he said he couldn t clear his airway and that saliva had gone down the wrong hole). He got up and walked off and kept trying to cough, then he suddenly fell to the ground and collapsed. He believed he fainted. He was unconscious for a while, but soon came to and was startled and confused but not soon after carried on as normal! I would say he was quite intoxicated and he smokes a lot more when he s drinking. What would cause this and is it indicative of something more serious?
Asked On : Fri, 18 Jan 2013
Answers:  1 Views:  116
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Psychiatrist 's  Response
Hello and welcome to Healthcare Magic. Thanks for your query.

A sudden loss of consciousness followed by a period of confusion may indicate a serious problem. It could be indicative of a neurological problem like a transient ichaemic attack (TIA) or a seizure. Alcohol can be the cause of such problems - either due to an acute intoxiation or during a withdrawal state also.

Since heavy smoking and drinking are major risk factors for many serious diseases, I would advise you to take him for a proper medical evaluation, to be on the safer side. In case his symptoms are indicative of a serious problem, then further preventive measures can be started immediately.

Wish you all the best.

Dr. Jonas Sundarakumar
Consultant Psychiatrist
Answered: Tue, 22 Jan 2013
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