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7 Effects of Excessive Alcohol Consumption on the Body

effects of excessive alcohol consumption

Drinking alcohol in moderate amounts can have positive effects on both physical and mental health. According to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, moderate alcohol consumption is defined as having up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drink per day for men. This definition is referring to the amount consumed on any single day and is not intended as an average over several days. Drinking more than that amount on a single day or over time can have some negative effects on your body.

When you drink alcohol, you might notice effects such as difficulty walking, speaking, or thinking clearly. These short-term effects usually go away on its own within a few hours. However, some long-term effects of alcohol can continue after you stop drinking, especially if you drink in excess for long periods of time. Here are some effects of excessive alcohol consumption on the body.

1. Heart

People who are heavy drinkers of alcohol have a higher risk of getting heart-related issues than people who do not drink. Excessive alcohol consumption can increase the levels of triglyceride – a type of fat in your blood. High triglycerides levels contribute to the risk of developing dangerous health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

2. Brain

Long term and excessive use of alcohol can impairs brain areas such as the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for many higher brain functions such as memory, perception, sensation, thinking and learning, and the cerebellum, which is important for movement coordination.

3. Liver

The liver is an organ which helps break down and remove harmful substances from your body, including alcohol. But drinking too much alcohol can overwhelm the metabolism process and lead to fatty liver. Fatty liver is a chronic condition that involves the buildup of bad fats in the liver, which lead to liver failure.

4. Kidneys

Your kidneys helps filter waste and toxins from your blood, regulate your blood pressure, and are responsible for stabilizing your blood’s electrolyte levels and pH. Drinking alcohol can cause changes in the function of the kidneys and make them less able to filter your blood.

Chronic drinking can cause enlargement of the kidneys and may impact on the hormones that control kidney function. In fact, most patients in the US who have kidney dysfunction are alcohol dependent.

5. Pancreas

Long-term alcohol use may negatively impact your pancreas and can cause pancreatitis, an inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels in the pancreas that prevents proper digestion. While medications and other treatment methods can help manage the effects of pancreatitis, it is very difficult to reverse the condition.

6. Skin

Drinking alcohol can dehydrate the body, including the skin. Alcohol dehydrates the skin in two ways. First, It acts as a diuretic which forces water out of the body. Second, it interferes with the hormone vasopressin, which is responsible for telling your kidneys to reabsorb some of the water that is about to leave your body. Prolonged and too much alcohol consumption can also increase the risk of rosacea, a skin condition that causes redness and flushing on the face and neck.

7. Immune System

Drinking too much alcohol can weaken the immune system, which makes the body more susceptible to infections. Additionally, the consumption of alcohol impairs the function of B-lymphocytes, which produce antibodies in the blood.

Caution

Drinking alcohol over a long period of time can lead to a dependence on it. Your risk of becoming dependent on alcohol is increased if you have more than two drinks at a time on a consistent basis.

Alcohol dependence is often associated with a growing tolerance to its effects, which means that you’ll need to drink increasingly more to feel the same results. And if you stop drinking, you’re likely to experience withdrawal symptoms, like nausea, sweating, or more serious developments, such as delirium and seizures.

The Department of Health recommends that women should avoid alcohol completely during pregnancy. This is because when a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, it passes through the placenta to the fetus which can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and a range of lifelong physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities. These disabilities are known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs).

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