Alcohol is the most widely abused drug in the world. There are millions of people, living around the globe, who are addicted to alcoholic drinks. They probably do not even realize that they are slowly poisoning their bodies, which may ultimately take their life. Researchers have linked alcohol consumption to more than 60 diseases. Here we look at the most common ones.
Effects of Alcohol on the body in the Short Term:
Alcoholism has many detrimental effects. The initial effects of alcohol are that it depresses your central nervous system. For some people, they may initially feel stimulated by this, but as drinking continues, you become sedated. Alcohol acts to lower your inhibitions and will affect your thoughts, judgment, and emotions. When taken in large quantities, alcohol will impair your coordination and will impair your speech. Too much of this drug can act to severely depress the vital centers of your brain. A life-threatening coma can be the result of heavy drinking. Short-term memory loss and inability to sleep well can be the results of excessive drinking.
Effects of Alcohol on the body in the Long Term?
Does the above deter you from drinking alcohol or do you rather think that will not happen to me?
1. Liver Damage:
Liver disorders are common with alcoholism as alcohol is toxic to liver cells. For example, heavy drinking can be the cause of alcoholic hepatitis, which is an inflammation of the liver. There are signs and symptoms of this, which can include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, fever, confusion, and yellowing of the skin. Hepatitis may lead to cirrhosis after years of drinking. This is an irreversible disease and can destroy and scars the tissue of the liver to such a degree it cannot function. Cirrhosis can happen to people who drink huge amounts and people who don’t drink very much and for some unknown reason at present, women are particularly susceptible.
Heavy drinking can cause the number of oxygen-carrying red blood cells to be abnormally low. This condition, known as anemia, can trigger a host of symptoms, including fatigue, shortness of breath, and lightheadedness.
3. Gastrointestinal Defects
Alcohol can also cause gastrointestinal problems. This can cause the lining of the stomach to become inflamed and interfere with your body’s ability to absorb B vitamins, specifically thiamin and folic acid. This heavy drinking can also result in damage to your pancreas, which is responsible for producing hormones that keep your metabolism regulated as well as the enzymes that assist the body in digesting proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Chronic pancreatitis causes abdominal pain and persistent diarrhea which is not curable. Some cases of chronic pancreatitis are triggered by gallstones, but up to 60% stem are from alcohol consumption.
4. High Risk Of Cancer
Alcoholism also puts you at an increased risk of developing cancer. Alcoholism has been linked to cancer of the throat, esophagus, liver, larynx (voice box), mouth, colon, breast, and rectum. Scientists believe the increased risk comes when the body converts alcohol into acetaldehyde, a potent carcinogen. Cancer risk rises even higher in heavy drinkers who also use tobacco.
Alcohol abuse can also lead to the interference with the production of new bone. This can lead to bone thinning and more chances to fracture your bones.
6. Neurological Defects
Neurological complications are also possible, as excessive drinking can hurt your nervous system, especially causing your feet and hands to become numb, but it also can assist you in developing dementia and confused or disordered thinking. As people age, their brains shrink, at an average rate of 1.9% per decade. However heavy drinking speeds the shrinkage of certain key regions in the brain, resulting in memory loss and other symptoms of dementia.
Heavy drinking can also lead to subtle but potentially debilitating deficits in the ability to make judgments, solve problems, and other aspects normal human function. In addition to the “nonspecific” dementia that stems from brain atrophy, heavy drinking can cause nutritional deficiencies so severe that they trigger other forms of dementia.
7. Nerve damage
Heavy drinking can cause a form of nerve damage known as alcoholic neuropathy, which can produce a painful pins-and-needles feeling in the extremities, as well as muscle weakness, incontinence, constipation, erectile dysfunction, and other problems. Alcoholic neuropathy may arise because alcohol is toxic to nerve cells, or because nutritional deficiencies attributable to heavy drinking compromise nerve function.
Heavy drinking, especially binge drinking, makes platelets more likely to clump together to form blood clots, which can lead to a heart attack or a stroke. In a landmark study published in 2005, Harvard researchers found that binge drinking doubled the risk of death among people who initially survived a heart attack.
Heavy drinking can also cause cardiomyopathy, a potentially deadly condition in which the heart muscle weakens and eventually fails, as well as the heart rhythm abnormalities atrial and ventricular fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation, in which the heart’s upper chambers (atria) twitch chaotically rather than constrict rhythmically, can cause blood clots that can trigger a stroke. Ventricular fibrillation causes chaotic twitching in the heart’s main pumping chambers (ventricles). It causes rapid loss of consciousness and, in the absence of immediate treatment, sudden death.
Diabetes complications are another issue. Alcohol keeps glucose from being released from your liver and can increase your risk of low blood sugar. If you have diabetes and are taking insulin to lower your level of blood sugar, this is very dangerous.
9. Sexual Organs
For men, alcohol abuse can cause erectile dysfunction, and for women, it can effect your menstruation. If a pregnant woman is consuming alcohol, she is taking a very high risk of causing her baby to be born with fetal alchohol syndrome. This is a condition that will result in birth defects, that include heart defects, shortening of the eyelids and other physical traits, having a small head, and having behavioral and cognitive developmental delays.
It’s long been known that heavy drinking often goes hand in hand with depression, but there has been debate about which came first — the drinking or the depression. One theory is that depressed people turned to alcohol in an attempt to “self-medicate” to ease their emotional pain. But another large study in New Zealand showed that it was probably the other way around — that is, heavy drinking led to depression.
Heavy drinking can cause epilepsy and can trigger seizures even in people who don’t have epilepsy. It can also interfere with the action of the medications used to treat the disorder.
A painful condition, gout is caused by the formation of uric acid crystals in the joints. Although some cases are largely hereditary, alcohol and other dietary factors appear to play a role. Alcohol also seems to aggravate existing cases of gout.
13. High blood pressure
Alcohol can disrupt the sympathetic nervous system, which, among other things, controls the constriction and dilation of blood vessels in response to stress, temperature, exertion, etc. Heavy drinking — and bingeing, in particular — can cause blood pressure to rise. Over time, this effect can become chronic. High blood pressure can lead to many other health problems, including kidney disease, heart disease, and stroke.
14. Infectious disease
Heavy drinking suppresses the immune system, providing a toehold for infections, including tuberculosis, pneumonia, HIV/AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases (including some that cause infertility).
What affect has Alcohol had on your health?
Does the above article make you sit up or do you think “nah that will never happen to me?”