When you consider the effects of alcohol on your health, you may wonder why we, as Americans, are obsessed with destructive lifestyles. Be it in our so-called Western diet, snacks, or what we drink. The stats concerning alcohol are damning, yet we never seem to stop.
Thankfully, a social drinker—as I proudly call myself—may not be at risk. I mean, a bottle or two once in a while to get over a heartbreak, escape reality and soar into cloud nine wouldn’t hurt anyone—albeit, perhaps, the terrible decisions you’d be making that evening.
The chief concern here lies on chronic drinkers. Alcohol starts working in your system right from the first taste until happily ever after. I understand it isn’t exactly fairytale-like, but I suppose that drives home the point. The accumulative effects of alcohol over time can be disastrous—without you even realizing it. Suddenly, you find out staying sober is unbelievably beautiful, but what if it is too late?
What Are The Common Effects Of Alcohol On Your Health?
The common effects of alcohol on your health are…
I’m sure you’ve read several texts on the liver. The liver breaks down and removes waste materials from the body. That’s like the guardian of the Galaxy. However, alcohol tampers with this function of the liver, thereby leaving harmful substances in the body.
In addition to this, excessive alcohol consumption exposes the liver to inflammation and other chronic diseases. One of these conditions is cirrhosis, a disease that renders the liver incapable of detoxing the body as it’s supposed to. Over time, scar tissues are formed in the body, consequently worsening liver incapability. A diseased liver cannot eliminate toxins and waste from the body. As such, the body is in a life-threatening situation.
According to a recent study, women are more likely to suffer alcoholic liver diseases. This is because women absorb alcohol more and also take more time to process it. Consequently, their liver suffers damage more quickly.
Influence Sugar Levels
The pancreas regulates the body’s response to glucose and insulin. As such, when the pancreas isn’t functioning properly, the body is vulnerable to hypoglycemia or low blood sugar levels. Alternatively, a diseased pancreas cannot maintain or use sugar in the body and could hence lead to hyperglycemia, a condition where your blood sugar levels are too high.
What’s worse, the inability of the body to regulate sugar levels for a long while leaves you at risk of diabetes. In case you are already suffering from hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia, you must reduce alcohol intake significantly.
Central Nervous System
One of the simplest ways to notice the adverse effects of alcohol is through the central nervous system. Why do they ask you not to drive when drunk? Alcohol affects communication between the body and brain, thereby making coordination and control difficult. As such, you can’t even walk properly. Sometimes, you feel a tingling sensation and numbness in your hands and legs.
Furthermore, alcohol influences your ability to make long-term memories. When drunk, you can’t make wise decisions, think clearly or select logical choices. Should this interference with the nervous system continue for a long while, the frontal lobe is damaged.
Now, the frontal lobe is responsible for emotional intelligence and control, judgment, and short-term memories. The next time you find yourself unable to remember things you did just an hour ago, it may do you well to have a brain scan immediately.
Alcohol, like every other drug, is addictive. Drinking heavily for years may cause chronic addiction to alcohol. Heavy drinkers are unable to do without alcohol, such that a day spent without it feels miserable. They become emotionally and physically dependent on alcohol—as if it were an inhaler for asthmatic patients.
Quitting alcohol usually requires professional assistance. There are detoxification units in clinics for alcoholics looking to go sober. Withdrawal from alcohol without medical help is nearly impossible. It may lead to distress and other symptoms, such as anxiety, heavy sweating, nausea, nervousness, high blood pressure, and tremors.
In critical cases, however, symptoms may include delirium, seizures, and hallucinations.
The effects of alcohol on the digestive system are never noticed early. This is because there are hardly noticeable symptoms in the early stages. Consequently, it is typically too late to prevent. What’s more, the more you drink, the worse the damage.
Heavy drinking affects the ability of the liver to digest foods, damages tissues in the digestive tract, and prevents absorption of minerals and vitamins from foods. As such, you may suffer from malnutrition, organ bloating, gassiness, and diarrhea or painful stools.
In extreme cases, the body suffers from constipation and dehydration—thereby leading to hemorrhoids or ulcers, two conditions that may cause internal bleeding. The risk of cancer is also high, especially in people that take tobacco as well.
Sexual and Reproductive Health
Contrary to the misconception behind sex, alcohol does not help you have more fun in bed, either through hormone inhibition or whatever. Instead, research has established that heavy alcoholics are likely to develop erectile dysfunction.
In women, the effects may be worse. A woman who drinks heavily is very likely to stop menstruation prematurely; as such, infertility sets in with time. Excessive drinking during pregnancy also increases the risk of stillbirth or miscarriage. What else, the fetus is vulnerable to FASD—fetal alcohol syndrome disorders. It may also lead to learning disorders, physical development problems, problematic emotional issues, and long-term health conditions.
The effects of alcohol on your health cannot be overemphasized. Heavy drinking can affect the immune, muscle, and circulatory systems. You may develop complications like stroke, heart diseases, attack and failure, and abnormal breathing. The list continues. No one is asking us to stop alcohol consumption completely—I mean, how will these companies maximize profits? You should, however, limit how you drink. Keep in mind, “in all things, moderation—except caring for your health.”