Alcohol starts affecting your body the minute you take the first sip. Having a glass of wine over dinner every once in a while is no cause for concern but the collective effect of drinking different kinds of alcohol in large amounts will have a negative impact on your health.
So how does alcohol affect your body? A glass of alcohol a day does little but if you find yourself consuming more and can’t stop drinking then you should be aware that too much alcohol can have an adverse effect on your health.
Effects on Your Nervous System
Alcohol obstructs the chemical signals between neurons that lead to the common signs of intoxication such as:
- Incoherent speech - this usually happens when the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) has reached 0.1%
- Impulsive behavior - alcohol is known to elevate a person’s impulsive behavior that can be dangerous to himself and others.
- Poor memory - too much alcohol can affect your brain’s ability to make memories and this can lead to forgetting key details or what doctors call “blackout”. Some even forget everything that happened the whole night after getting drunk.
- Loss of coordination - alcohol intoxication can affect your balance, cognition, and motor coordination. Stumbling and staggering gait are some of the signs.
- Slow reflexes - too much alcohol signals the brain and other parts of the nervous system to slow down thus affecting your reflexes, eye muscle function, and decision making. This is the reason why drinking and driving should be avoided.
Effects on Your Circulatory System
Drinking alcohol can temporarily increase your blood pressure and heart rate. Long-term drinking can then lead to constant high blood pressure, heart rate, irregular heartbeat, and weakened heart muscle. Alcoholism is strongly associated with cardiovascular (CV) diseases such as:
- High blood pressure - long-term heavy drinking leads to hypertension. Aside from this, the calorie content of alcohol can cause you to gain weight which is another cause for high blood pressure.
- Stroke - too much alcohol can trigger a kind of irregular and often fast heartbeat called atrial fibrillation. This irregular heartbeat causes blood clots to form and if these reach the brain, stroke is inevitable.
- Cardiomyopathy - alcoholic cardiomyopathy is a type of heart disease caused by alcoholism. Prolonged alcohol abuse makes the heart muscle weak and thin thus affecting the heart’s ability to pump blood. Blood flow deficiency can inhibit all of your body’s key functions.
- Arrhythmia - chronic heavy drinking can cause cardiac arrhythmia, another type of irregular heartbeat wherein the heart beats too fast (Tachycardia) or too slow (Bradycardia). Prolonged alcohol abuse can increase the risk of having sudden death due to fatal arrhythmia.
- Blood Clotting - alcohol is also known to act as a blood thinner and consuming too much alcohol makes blood clotting inefficient. If ever you have an injury while drunk, you will be at risk of bleeding excessively.
- Anemia - Most of the time, alcoholics have a difficulty in producing adequate amounts of red blood cells and this can lead to anemia. Alcohol-induced anemia can worsen over time and lead to serious health issues and could even be fatal.
Effects on Your Digestive System
Large amounts of alcohol can overcome the digestive system and cause damage to the digestive tract and other organs. Heavy drinking is linked to numerous digestive tract issues such as:
- Nausea - alcohol can cause gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining) that will make you nauseous, vomit, and have stomach pain.
- Diarrhea - drinking alcohol upsets the intestines and causes them to speed up the rate of digestion which then leads to diarrhea.
- Upset stomach - drinking too much alcohol can lead to bloating, flatulence, and sore ulcers.
- Malnutrition - Heavy drinking can cause malnutrition in two ways. First, when too much alcohol is consumed, the body is led to believe that its caloric needs are met and doesn’t need other foods anymore. Alcohol doesn’t contain any nutrition that the body needs to perform its functions so prolonged heavy drinking can cause malnutrition. Another cause is the toxic effect of alcohol on the digestive tract. This causes swelling and ulceration of the gut wall that results in poor nutrient absorption.
- Pancreatitis - is a serious condition where the blood vessels in the pancreas are inflamed and swollen which leads to maldigestion.
- Diabetes - drinking too much alcohol can lead to pancreatitis that damages the ability of the pancreas to produce insulin and this may potentially result in diabetes.
- Liver damage - Chronic alcoholism can damage your liver and stop it from adequately eliminating toxic substances from your body
- Cancer - alcohol abuse has been known to cause several types of cancer such as cancer of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, and colon.
Effects on Your Reproductive System
- Effects on men - alcohol can inhibit the function of the hypothalamus, anterior pituitary gland, and testes. This can cause infertility, impotence, stop the production of sex hormones, and decrease your libido.
- Effects on women - in women, drinking too much alcohol can hinder menstruation that could then lead to infertility. In pregnant women, alcohol abuse can cause them to have a miscarriage, premature delivery, or stillbirth.
Effects on Your Skeletal System
Long-term use of alcohol has been shown to lessen bone formation and reduce the growth of osteoblastic cells.
Effects on Your Muscular System
Alcohol abuse can lead to numerous muscle issues like muscle weakness, cramps, and chronic alcoholic myopathy.
Effects on Your Immune System
Too much alcohol drinking damages immune cells in major organs. This makes it difficult for the immune system to fight against pathogens.
There are many different reasons why a person gets hooked on alcohol. If you or someone you know suffers from alcohol abuse, there are various treatments available that could help you fight the battle against alcohol addiction.
Detoxification, medication, rehabilitation, supplements, determination, and support from family and friends are very important to those who are trying to turn over a new leaf.
You might also be interested to read 10 Simple Healthy Practices for Better Health and 12 Health Products That Can Help Relieve Body Pains.