Frequently drinking too much alcohol is harmful to health. Alcohol can have an impact on everybody system.
How much alcohol a person drinks, genetic factors, gender, body mass, and general state of health all influence how a person’s health responds to chronic heavy drinking.
However, studies consistently show that, overall, heavy alcohol consumption is detrimental to health and a leading preventable cause of death.
When the body takes in more alcohol than it can metabolize, the excess builds up in the bloodstream. The heart circulates blood alcohol throughout the body, leading to changes in chemistry and normal body functions.
Even a single binge-drinking episode can result in significant bodily impairment, damage, or death. Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of many chronic diseases and other serious health problems.
Alcohol has been found to contribute to at least 60 different health conditions.
Let’s look at the ten most common effects of heavy drinking.
Fast facts on chronic heavy drinking
Here are some key points about chronic heavy drinking. More detailed information is in the main article.
- Excessive alcohol use is the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the United States.
- In 2010-2012, around 38 million American adults said they binge drink on average four times a month, drinking an average of eight drinks per session.
- The definition of heavy drinking is consuming eight drinks or more per week for women, and 15 or more for men.
- Any alcohol consumed by pregnant women is excessive use.
- Alcohol consumption is associated with violent crime.
- People who begin drinking before the age of 15 years are five times more likely to become dependent on alcohol than those who begin drinking at or after the age of 21 years.
1. Liver disease
Extreme alcohol consumption can impact many of the body’s systems.
Alcohol is typically broken down in the liver, which is why the liver is predominantly at risk of harm.
The body breaks down alcohol into acetaldehyde, a substance that is both noxious and cancer-causing.
Alcoholic liver disease is affected by the amount and period of alcohol abuse. Chronic, heavy drinking poses a considerable risk for its growth.
Drinking in excess majorly increases the risk of alcoholic fatty liver, an initial and reversible outcome of excessive alcohol consumption. Chronic drinking varies the liver’s metabolism of fats, and surplus fat amasses in the liver.
Other impacts on the liver comprise long-term inflammation, called alcoholic hepatitis. This can result in scar tissue.
Over a period varying from numerous years to decades, the scarring can completely conquer the liver, causing it to be rigid and nodular. This is known as cirrhosis.
If the liver won’t perform its life-sustaining functions, several organ failures and death will occur. Symptoms often advance only after widespread damage has already been caused.
Excessive consumption of alcohol can result in pancreatitis, an aching inflammation of the pancreas that often calls for hospitalization.
The inflammation is probably connected to premature activation of proenzymes to pancreatic enzymes and chronic revelation to acetaldehyde, and other chemical events in the pancreas induced by alcohol injury.
Around 70% cases of pancreatitis impact people who often drink large amounts of alcohol.
Excessive alcohol consumption can upsurge the risk of developing different cancers, including cancers of the mouth, larynx, oesophagus, stomach, colon, rectum, liver, and breast. Both alcohol and the acetaldehyde itself contribute to the increased risk.
People who drink as well as smoke tobacco have a higher risk of cancer of the respiratory tract and upper gastrointestinal tract.
4. Ulcers and gastrointestinal problems
Chronic alcohol consumption is associated with alcoholic fatty liver.
Heavy drinking can result in problems with the digestive system, such as stomach ulcers, heartburn, acid reflux, and inflammation of the stomach lining, known as gastritis.
As alcohol begins to pass through the gastrointestinal tract, it starts exerting its toxic effects. Harm to the digestive system can also result in hazardous internal bleeding from puffy veins in the oesophagus related to chronic liver disease.
Alcohol hinders with gastric acid secretion. It can interrupt gastric emptying, and it can damage the muscle movements in the entire bowel.
The gastrointestinal tract withstands a substantial amount of harm from alcohol.
5. Immune system dysfunction
Drinking extravagantly deteriorates the immune system, making the body susceptible to infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis and pneumonia.
Alcohol causes variations in white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.
A reduction in the white blood cell count can arise due to alcoholism. This occurs because the body’s production of white blood cells is repressed, and the cells become stuck in the spleen.
Each incident of heavy drinking lowers the body’s ability to defend against infections. Exposure to large amounts of alcohol and chronic, heavy alcohol use will unfavourably impact white blood cell production and function over time.
There will be a higher risk of tuberculosis (TB), pneumonia, HIV infection, and other situations.
6. Brain damage
Alcohol is linked with memory lapses, blurred vision, difficulty walking, slurred speech and slowed reaction time. These are all because of its effects on the brain.
It changes the brain receptors and neurotransmitters, and it hinders a person’s cognitive functioning, emotions, moods, and reactions on multiple levels.
Because alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, it generates difficulty with meting out information and poses challenges with cracking simple problems.
Alcohol’s impact on serotonin and GABA receptors may generate neurological variations that could cause a decrease in a person’s normal distress of penalties to their own actions, contributing to risk-taking or aggressive behaviours.
Alcohol also disturbs fine motor synchronization and balance, often causing injuries from falls. Chronic drinking can lead to “blackouts” or the incapability to recall events. Long-term excessive drinking can accelerate the brain’s normal aging process, leading to early and permanent dementia.
Until the age of 24 years, the brain is still in the developing phase. As a consequence of the same, young adults are particularly susceptible to the damaging effects of alcohol.
Long-term heavy drinking can result in a form of dementia that impacts learning, memory, and other mental functions.
Chronic heavy alcohol consumption, predominantly during puberty and young adulthood, can vividly affect bone health, and it may upsurge the risk of evolving osteoporosis, with a loss of bone mass, later on in life.
Osteoporosis increases the risk of fractures, specifically in the proximal femur of the hip.
Alcohol hinders with the balance of calcium, cortisol levels, and vitamin D production, adding to the possible weakening of the bone structure.
People who drink unreasonably are more prone to fracture a vertebra than those who do not.
Drinking high amounts of alcohol during teenage years increases the risk of osteoporosis later in life.
8. Heart disease and cardiovascular health
Excessive drinking can lead to high blood pressure by prompting the release of specific hormones that cause tightening of blood vessels. This can negatively impact the heart.
Excessive alcohol intake has long been linked to multiple cardiovascular complications, including angina, high blood pressure, and risk of heart failure.
Stroke is a potentially life-threatening impediment of binge drinking. Variations in blood pressure and increases in platelet activation are pretty common during the body’s retrieval from a splurge. This deadly combination increases the possibility of ischemic stroke.
9. Accidents and injuries
Alcohol consumption in any amount is associated with car crashes, falls, domestic violence, drowning, suicide, occupational injuries, and homicide.
Driving ability may be diminished with as less as one drink down, and a person who boozes heavily is likely to sustain a greater harshness of injury with an accident.
Chronic or excessive drinking poses a huge health risk. Drinking heavily, whether on one instance or over a prolonged period, can result in severe and irretrievable body damage.
No drinking pattern is completely risk-free, and there is no dependable method of guessing how or when an individual will be hurt as a result of the chronic heavy drinking of alcohol.
10. Sexually-Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
Alcohol cannot directly result in STDs; though, it plays a major role in the risk of transmitting an STD. Alcohol soothes you and puts you at a state of mind in which confidence rises. Confidence may surge with every drink, along with your readiness to take part in activities you would have never thought to if you were sober. Many people want to feel high while drinking alcohol and take major risks – such as committing wrongdoings or going home with a stranger to engage in unsafe sex. Both males and females are more likely to indulge in dangerous sexual behaviour or become a prey of sexual assault when they are drunk, increasing the chances of contacting an STD they possibly have to deal with for the rest of their lives. This comprises the feared human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that leads to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).
Alcohol damages the antiviral immune response, particularly in the liver, together with response against Hepatitis C (HCV) and HIV.
Alcohol can deteriorate your immune system, making it much easier to catch flu, cold, or an STD. Drinking extreme amounts of alcohol can certainly take a toll on your body, and if you contract a disease, it can be tougher to fight it off.
Alcohol consumption alters the structure and function of neurons in an area of the brain called the dorsomedial striatum, find scientists.
It is well known that high blood pressure and diabetes can raise the risk of stroke. But a new twin study finds that, for people in middle-aged, heavy alcohol consumption may increase that risk even more.
If you have a little too much alcohol once in a while, it probably won’t do lasting damage if you’re otherwise healthy. But it’s a different story if you regularly drink heavily.
For most men, that’s defined as more than 4 drinks a day, or 14 or 15 in a week. For women, heavy drinking is more than 3 drinks in a day, or 7 or 8 per week.
Too much alcohol can harm you physically and mentally in lots of ways.
How to Get Help
If you think you might have a problem with alcohol, get help. Talk to your doctor, therapist, or an addiction specialist. Find online support groups. Some people manage to kick the habit on their own. But if you feel you need extra help, you may want to check out your local branch of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Tags: List of diseases caused by alcohol, Alcohol related diseases symptoms, Liver diseases caused by alcohol