Effects Of Heavy Drinking On The Body – When you drink alcohol, it is absorbed into your bloodstream and affects every part of your body. After the first sip, the alcohol rushes to the brain, releasing feel-good endorphins and your heart rate can speed up. For heavy drinkers, in the long run, alcohol seriously affects your overall well-being, including your personality and mental health. Most importantly, alcohol puts your physical health at serious risk. Below are the long-term side effects that alcohol has on the body after extended periods of time:
Heavy drinking can lead to brain damage and memory loss. A recent study examined over 36,000 middle-aged adults and the relationship between their alcohol consumption and brain volume. Researchers found that one to two drinks a day was associated with changes in the brain equivalent to two years of aging. In other words, a 50-year-old who drinks a pint of beer or a glass of wine a day effectively ages his brain by 2 years. Participants self-reported their alcohol consumption in a year, which could lead to inaccuracies if they forgot how much they consumed or their consumption was greater in other years. So, although this study is in its early stages, the initial findings contrast with the common myth that “a glass of wine a day keeps the doctor away.”
Effects Of Heavy Drinking On The Body
Another way heavy drinking can affect the brain is through the onset of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS). This debilitating disease of the brain can be caused by a deficiency of thiamine, which is a vitamin that most chronic alcoholics lack due to poor nutrition and low body absorption. The initial symptoms of WKS are loss of muscle coordination, vision problems, and confusion. If left untreated, the brain suffers further damage, impairing learning and memory skills. WKS can be treated with abstinence from alcohol and proper nutrition, but it can take years to fully recover.
Effects Of Alcohol: What Drinking Does To Your Running Body
Heavy drinkers are at risk of tooth decay, periodontal disease, and potentially precancerous lesions of the oral cavity. Many alcoholic beverages are high in sugar, which causes tooth erosion and tooth decay. Bacteria feed on sugar, so a person with an alcohol use disorder provides the perfect environment in their mouth for bacteria to thrive. The acid from wine, beer and citrus drinks also wears down enamel.
Unhealthy eating habits—from overconsumption of sugars and fats to underconsumption of important vitamins and minerals—are common among heavy drinkers and can lead to gum disease. Bad breath – caused by rotting teeth and infected gums – is one of the clear 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 severe effect on this part of the body.
Alcohol is a sedative, so one of its properties is that it slows breathing. In people who have been drinking heavily for years, the alcohol damages their airways and interferes with their lungs’ ability to fight infection. In addition, 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 stress relief and sedative effects, but this comes with major risks. When alcohol and opioids are combined, an overdose can occur. The respiratory system may become so depressed that it cannot support breathing. Without enough oxygen to the brain, organs begin to shut down and the brain can face irreversible damage. If treatment is not given immediately, it can be fatal.
The Effects Of Binge Drinking On The Body (includes Infographic)
Alcohol affects the body’s ability to build healthy, new muscle because the substance reduces the rate of muscle protein synthesis (MPS), the process of producing protein to repair damaged muscle and increase mass. In addition, drinking disrupts the flow of calcium into muscle cells, affecting the way muscles contract. Repeated abuse combined with a poor diet also prevents the body from repairing damaged muscles.
As a result, in the long term, excessive drinking can cause muscle weakness or “alcoholic myopathy,” a condition that causes a loss of muscle strength. Common symptoms of alcoholic myopathy are muscle cramps, spasms, numbness and pain throughout the body. Acute alcoholic myopathy can also occur temporarily after a night of drinking. Eating a balanced diet, physical therapy, and abstaining from alcohol can help reverse this condition.
During intoxication, it becomes difficult for the pupils to contract and dilate as they normally would. The automatic physiological function is disturbed and the eyes cannot quickly adjust to the various changes in light. For example, if a bright light is suddenly turned on in a room, people who have been drinking will 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 its visual system synchronizes information from both eyes. The problem of double vision and delayed adaptation to changes in light make drunk driving extremely dangerous. In addition, excessive alcohol abuse can weaken the eye muscles, alter peripheral vision and the ability to distinguish colors. In rarer cases, alcoholism can cause blindness caused by damage to the optic nerve.
Alcohol And Cancer Risk Fact Sheet
A fast or irregular heartbeat is common among heavy drinkers. Alcohol can have a profound effect on this part of the body as well. In fact, some studies show that drinking at least one to three alcoholic drinks each day can increase your risk of developing an abnormal heart rhythm. Having an irregular heartbeat can cause fatigue, dizziness or shortness of breath.
Alcoholic cardiomyopathy, or weakening of the heart muscle, is another serious disease caused by excessive alcohol abuse. Over long periods of time, alcohol can thin and weaken the heart muscle so that it becomes less efficient at pumping blood around 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 over 90% of alcohol. In the liver, enzymes work hard to destroy alcohol molecules, while the rest of the 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 binge, the liver can’t process toxins fast enough and excess alcohol enters the bloodstream, causing users to feel intoxicated. Repeated heavy drinking can damage the organ and lead to cirrhosis, which is scarring of the liver.
Alcohol And Your Body
The stomach is the first part of the body that alcohol comes into contact with after the mouth. Excessive alcohol abuse can increase the production of stomach acid, gradually wearing away the stomach lining. If enough erosion occurs, it can lead to a condition called gastritis. Gastritis causes a burning sensation in the stomach, a feeling of unpleasant fullness after eating and nausea. If left untreated, ulcers are likely to form in the digestive tract along with stomach tumors.
In addition to the lining of the stomach becoming irritated, heavy drinking also throws the body’s gut microbiome out of balance, leading to an overgrowth of bad bacteria. Too much bad bacteria can lead to fluctuating weight, skin problems and disrupted sleep cycles. Alcohol consumption destroys cells in the digestive system, thereby hindering the stomach’s ability to properly digest and absorb nutrients from food. This is why many drinkers become slightly 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 exocrine hormones to help regulate blood sugar levels. However, chronic alcohol consumption will disrupt these functions, often leading to pancreatitis.
Pancreatitis is a painful inflammation of the pancreas that can be acute or chronic. This condition occurs when the abundance of toxins from the alcohol breakdown process begins to damage the cells of the pancreas. In addition, digestive enzymes that are normally released in the small intestine become trapped in the pancreas and begin self-digesting in the organ. The damaged tissue then becomes inflamed, and if heavy drinking continues, this condition can become permanent. Some of the effects of pancreatitis are jaundice, back and abdominal pain, discolored stools, and vomiting.
How Much Alcohol Is Too Much?
The kidneys filter waste from the blood, regulate the body’s water and mineral balance, and produce hormones. Excessive alcohol use can have harmful side effects on this part of the body. Because drinking causes dehydration, the kidneys, along with other organs in the body, become overwhelmed with limited water. Dehydration caused by alcohol is a common cause of kidney stones because the urine becomes more concentrated and the body cannot properly remove toxins.
People who maintain a heavy drinking habit double their chances of developing kidney disease compared to the general population. Binge drinking, or consuming four to five drinks in less than two hours, can sometimes damage the kidneys so much that acute kidney failure occurs. This is when the kidneys temporarily lose their ability to filter and dangerous levels of waste begin to build up
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