Alcohol Long Term Effects On The Body – When you drink alcohol, it is absorbed into your bloodstream and affects every part of your body. After the first sip, alcohol releases feel-good endorphins into the brain and your heart rate may increase. For heavy drinkers, in the long run, alcohol can seriously affect your overall health, including your personality and mental health. Most importantly, alcohol puts your physical health at serious risk. Following are the long-term side effects that alcohol has on the body after a long period of time:
Heavy drinking can damage the brain and cause memory loss. A recent study examined the relationship between more than 36,000 middle-aged adults and their alcohol consumption and brain volume. The researchers found that one to two drinks a day was associated with changes in the brain by age two. In other words, a 50-year-old man who drinks a pint of beer or a glass of wine a day effectively ages their brain by 2 years. Participants self-reported their alcohol consumption over a year, which can lead to error if they forget how much they consumed or if their consumption was higher in other years. So although this research is in its early stages, the initial findings contradict the common myth that “a glass of wine a day keeps the doctor away.”
Alcohol Long Term Effects On The Body
Another way that heavy drinking can affect the brain is by triggering Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS). This debilitating brain disease can be caused by a deficiency of thiamine, a vitamin that many chronic alcoholics lack due to poor nutrition and poor absorption. Early symptoms of WKS are loss of muscle coordination, vision problems, and confusion. If left untreated, the brain can suffer further damage, impairing learning and memory skills. WKS can be treated with abstinence from alcohol and proper nutrition, but it may take years to fully recover.
Can Alcoholism Negatively Impact Your Health?
People who drink heavily are at risk of tooth decay, periodontal disease, and possible pre-existing oral ulcers. Many alcoholic beverages contain high levels of sugar, which causes tooth decay and cavities. Bacteria feed on sugar, so a person with an alcohol use disorder provides the perfect environment for bacteria to grow in their mouth. Acids from wine, beer, and citrus drinks also wear away enamel.
Unhealthy eating habits—from high sugar and fat intake to low intake of important vitamins and minerals—are common among heavy drinkers and can lead to gum disease. Bad breath—caused by decaying teeth and infected gums—is one of the telltale signs that someone may be struggling with alcoholism. Heavy drinkers are also at greater risk of developing cancers of the mouth, throat and esophagus. In the long run, alcohol has a serious effect on this part of the body.
Alcohol is a sedative, so one of its properties is that it slows breathing. For people who have been drinking heavily for years, alcohol damages their airways and interferes with their lungs’ ability to fight infection. Additionally, alcohol impairs the body’s ability to clear mucus from the lungs, leading to a higher risk of pneumonia and other health complications.
Opioids, another sedative, are sometimes taken with alcohol to enhance the stress-relieving and relaxing effects, but they come with major risks. When alcohol and opioids are combined, overdose can occur. The respiratory system can become so stressed that it cannot hold its breath. Without enough oxygen to the brain, organs begin to shut down and the brain can suffer irreversible damage. If not treated immediately, it can be fatal.
Diagram Showing The Long Term Effects Of Excess Alcohol Consumption Stock Photo
Alcohol affects the body’s ability to build healthy, new muscle because the substance decreases levels of muscle protein synthesis (MPS), the protein production process used to repair damaged muscle and grow mass. In addition, drinking disrupts the flow of calcium in muscle cells, affecting the way muscles contract. Repeated abuse combined with a poor diet prevents the body from repairing damaged muscles.
As a result, in the long run, heavy drinking can lead to muscle weakness, or “alcoholic myopathy,” a condition in which muscles lose strength. Common symptoms of alcoholic myopathy are muscle aches, pains, numbness, and aches throughout the body. Acute alcoholic myopathy can also occur temporarily after a night of heavy drinking. Eating a balanced diet, physical therapy, and avoiding alcohol can help reverse this condition.
During intoxication, it becomes difficult for the pupils to constrict and dilate as they normally would. Autonomic physiological function is weakened, and the eyes cannot quickly adjust to different changes in light. For example, if the lights are suddenly turned on in a room, people who have been drinking often complain that it is “too bright.”
Alcohol also affects the communication between the brain and the eyes. As a result, this can cause double vision, a condition in which the brain slows down the rate at which the visual system coordinates information from the two eyes. The problem of double vision and delayed changes in light make driving while intoxicated extremely dangerous. In addition, excessive alcohol abuse can weaken the eye muscles, alter visual acuity, and alter the ability to distinguish between colors. In rare cases, alcoholism can cause blindness caused by damage to the optic nerve.
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A fast or irregular heartbeat is common among people who drink frequently. Alcohol can also have a profound effect on this part of the body. In fact, some studies show that drinking at least one to three alcoholic drinks per day may increase the risk of developing an abnormal heartbeat. An irregular heartbeat can cause fatigue, dizziness, or shortness of breath.
Alcoholic cardiomyopathy, or heart muscle weakness, is another serious disease caused by excessive alcohol consumption. Over the long term, alcohol can weaken and weaken the heart muscle, making it less efficient at pumping blood throughout the body. As alcoholic cardiomyopathy worsens, it can lead to other complications such as heart failure.
The liver plays one of the most important roles in the process of breaking down alcohol. Responsible for producing enzymes and filtering harmful substances in the blood, the liver processes more than 90% of alcohol. In the liver, enzymes work hard to break down the alcohol molecules while the remaining substance leaves the body through urine, sweat and breath.
The liver can only process a certain amount of alcohol per hour. Usually, one drink per hour. When people drink alcohol, the liver cannot process the toxins quickly enough and excess alcohol enters the bloodstream, causing the user to feel intoxicated. Frequent heavy drinking can damage the organ and lead to cirrhosis, which is liver injury.
Does Alcohol Change Your Personality Long Term?
The stomach is the first part of the body that alcohol comes into contact with after drinking. Excessive alcohol consumption can increase the production of stomach acid, gradually destroying the lining of the stomach. If enough erosion occurs, it can cause a condition called gastritis. Gastritis causes a burning sensation in the stomach, a feeling of discomfort after eating, and nausea. If left untreated, stomach tumors can cause ulcers in the digestive tract.
In addition to irritating the lining of the stomach, heavy drinking also throws off the balance of the body’s gut microbiome, resulting in the overgrowth of bad bacteria. Too much bad bacteria can cause weight changes, skin problems, and disrupted sleep cycles. Drinking alcohol destroys the cells of the digestive system, thereby destroying the stomach’s ability to properly digest and absorb nutrients from food. This is why many drinkers become less malnourished over time.
An additional long-term effect alcohol has on the body is damage to the pancreas, another important organ that aids in digestion. When functioning normally, the pancreas releases digestive enzymes to help break down food and exogenous hormones to help regulate blood sugar levels. However, long-term alcohol consumption will impair the functions that often lead to pancreatitis.
Pancreatitis is a painful inflammation of the pancreas that can be acute or chronic. This condition occurs when the excess amount of toxins from the alcohol breakdown process damages the cells of the pancreas. In addition, the digestive enzymes normally released in the small intestine remain in the pancreas and begin to digest the organ. The damaged tissue becomes inflamed again, and if excessive drinking continues, this condition can become permanent. Some of the effects of pancreatitis are jaundice, back and abdominal pain, colorless stools and vomiting.
Short & Long Term Effects Of Alcohol
Kidneys filter waste products from the blood, regulate water and mineral balance in the body, and produce hormones. Excessive consumption of alcohol can have adverse side effects on this part of the body. Since drinking causes dehydration, the kidneys, along with other organs in the body, work harder with limited water. Dehydration due to alcohol is a common cause of kidney stones because the urine becomes more concentrated and the body cannot remove toxins properly.
People who are heavy drinkers are twice as likely to develop kidney disease than the general population. Binge drinking, or four to five drinks in two hours, can sometimes damage the kidneys enough to cause acute kidney failure. This is when the kidneys temporarily lose their ability to filter and dangerous levels of waste begin.
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