What Effects does Alcohol Have on the Body?
Alcoholism is an overwhelmingly present issue. It is a very powerful and damaging disease that is very capable of taking your health for a horrific downfall if left untreated.
With the consistent abuse of alcohol or someone suffering from alcoholism, there are short- and long-term effects on the body. But what someone may not realize is that the short-term all too often turns into the long-term and then you have reached an entirely new obstacle.
So what happens when you drink alcohol? Sure, it all seems well and good until you over drink. Who has ever had an experience in which you drank too much, became ill and swore off drinking all together! I know I have.
However, one thing is certain: Continuing to consume alcohol will bring upon uninhibited feelings tied with possible dizziness, slurred speech, possible aggressiveness and violence, emotional ups and downs and a sense of false well-being. Then you can look forward to the next day…the infamous hangover. A typical hangover which results from too much alcohol will cause headache, nausea, and fatigue.
While many people consume alcohol and willingly endure these short-term effects without having any sort of trouble or difficulty stopping, some aren’t so willing to stop and become addicted. However, there are still short term effects that should be noted.
Alcohol is absorbed into our system through the walls of our stomach and intestines, which is why people get intoxicated more quickly on an empty stomach. Alcohol is processed by the liver, which is the only organ that produces the proper enzyme. When a person is drunk, they generally go through different “stages.” Starting with euphoria, as a person drinks alcohol they move into a stage of lethargy, followed by confusion, stupor, and coma or death.
Here is a list of some of the common short-term effects of alcohol on our bodies, which worsen and can become severe or life-threatening as more alcohol is consumed.
Flushed face or red blotches on the skin
Impaired fine motor skills
Lack of muscle coordination
Blurred vision or other impaired senses
Impaired ability to speak
Numbness to pain
Nausea or vomiting
Inability to create new memories
Decreased heart rate
For people who drink a lot of alcohol on a regular basis, the effects on their body can be quite significant. The liver is the part of the body that’s most affected. Long-term alcohol use can lead to a fatty liver, fibrosis, cirrhosis, and inflammation. The liver will not work as well and fewer nutrients and oxygen will reach the liver cells, which will eventually lead to liver failure.
Here is a list of more parts of the body that are affected by frequent alcohol consumption and how they’re affected:
Heart: Heavy drinking can raise blood pressure and lead to heart arrhythmias, cardiomyopathy, and stroke.
Brain: The brain’s communication pathways are impaired, which causes many of the short-term effects of alcohol, such as lack of coordination and memory. With heavy drinking, some damage to the brain and its communication pathways can be permanent.
Pancreas: Alcohol makes the pancreas produce a toxic substance that can lead to a swollen pancreas and swollen blood vessels in the pancreas, which impairs digestion.
Kidneys: Alcohol enlarges the kidneys, impairs their ability to function, and can lead to kidney disease and kidney failure.
Immune System: Heavy drinking lowers the body’s defenses against disease and infection.
There are many other ways that alcohol can affect the body in the long-term. Frequent, long-term alcohol consumption can also lead to these diseases and conditions (directly or indirectly):
Cancer of the mouth, esophagus, throat, breast, liver, and colon.
Nervous disorders like dementia and neuropathy
Psychological disorders like depression, insomnia, and anxiety
Fetal alcohol syndrome
The long-term effects of consuming alcohol will most definitely lead to some sort of damage to vital organs such as the liver and the brain. Oftentimes, alcoholism will lead to permanent damage. Other long-term issues entail a lack of good nutrition, as the alcoholic is focused on the drinking rather than eating properly. They also may suffer financially, as it is very difficult for someone to balance the disease of alcoholism and a commitment to employment.
There is a thin line between drinking alcohol in moderation and having it consume your life. Alcoholism often begins with casual and social drinking and then turns into a long-term lifestyle. No matter what your decision, to drink or not, the best thing you can do is be as aware as possible of all the dangers of alcohol running rampant.