What are the effects of alcohol on the body?

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Alcohol

Alcohol is defined as a colourless, volatile and flammable liquid that is produced by natural fermentation of sugar and is an intoxicating constituent in drinks like wine, beer, and spirit is also used as an industrial solvent.

Alcohol is toxic. Alcohol has psychoactive substance and dependence-producing properties.

An alcoholic drink is any drink that contains ethanol. Ethanol is a type of alcohol that is produced by fermenting green fruits or other sugar sources that act as a drug.

Consuming alcoholic drinks is often referred to as “drinking”. Drinking plays an important part in various social cultures.

Alcohol

 What are the effects of alcohol on the body?

The effect of alcohol is not felt immediately after the first sip. If a person consumes alcohol, they have had some experience with its side effects, like a feeling that kicks in immediately to an unpleasant headache or hangover they experience the following day.

There is a popular misconception that many people occasionally drink and believe alcohol is not a concern.  However, this is contradictory to the truth. Any amount of alcohol consumed can potentially lead to health consequences.

People who binge drink will exhibit side effects sooner, and people who drink in moderation can also be at risk.

Before we go into the side effects, it is important to understand what it means to drink in moderation?

Current guidelines define moderate drinking as

  • One or few drinks per day for women
  • Two or less drinks per day for men

Consuming alcohol can take a toll on a person’s mental and physical well-being gradually over time.

Usually, these effects can be more severe when a person consumes regularly more than the moderate level.

The internet is always filled with messages regarding alcohol. Few people contemplate that a moderate amount of alcohol is linked to health benefits, whereas other people argue that it is addictive and highly toxic.

But the truth is that consuming alcohol will disturb the health irrespective of the amount and type of alcohol consumed.

Consuming alcohol can cause

Also, it cause mental problems like

There are other short-term and long-term side effects of consuming alcohol.

What are the short-term side effects of consuming alcohol?

short-term side effects of consuming alcohol

Some of the temporary side effects caused by the consumption of alcohol are also known as short-term effects. A person might notice a few side effects of drinking like

  • Feeling of relaxation
  • Feeling drowsy
  • Euphoria
  • Reduced inhibition
  • Mood changes
  • Impulsive behaviour
  • Disturb speech
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Diarrhoea
  • Blurred vision
  • Changes in hearing and perception
  • Lack of coordination
  • Trouble in focus and
  • Blackouts.

Some of these effects will help a person feel relaxed but lower inhibition immediately after a drink.

Other symptoms or side effects will develop after a few drinks. Dehydration and its related side effects, like nausea, dizziness and hehttps://www.starhealth.in/blog/how-much-water-person-drink-in-a-dayadaches, may not appear for a few hours after consuming alcohol.

 It depends on various factors, like what a person consumes and how much they consume. The amount of water they consume with alcohol also can have an impact on exhibiting such side effects.

The good news is that these short-term side effects don’t last long, as the name suggests. However, these symptoms should not be underwritten or considered unimportant.

Side effects like impulsiveness and changes in moods or behaviour can lead to further effects like an accident, injuries, or poor decision making, which a person can regulate later.

What are the long-term effects of alcohol?

Consuming alcohol can lead to many long-lasting health problems that can extend beyond just mood swings and short-term side effects.

Some of the long-term side-effects of frequent alcohol consumption are:

  • Consistent and continuous mood changes
  • Constant anxiety and irritability
  • Weak immune system
  • Changes in libido
  • Changes in appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Memory and concentration-related problems
  • Difficulty in focusing
  • Increased conflict

Apart from all these side effects, alcohol can also have physical effects on the body.

Liver and alcohol

The liver is an organ with various essential functions. One of the main functions of the liver is to neutralise various toxic substances that enter the body.

This organ is vulnerable to damage caused by alcohol consumption. Liver diseases can be caused when there is alcohol consumption and is known as alcoholic liver diseases.

The first health condition to show up when there is alcohol consumption is fatty liver.

Fatty liver is characterised by increased fat present in the liver cells.

In heavy drinkers, the alcohol can cause the liver to be inflated. During the inflation, the liver cell dies and get replaced with scar tissue leading to serious health complication called cirrhosis.

Brain and alcohol

Binge alcoholism can have various adverse effects on the brain. As alcohol contains ethanol, it reduces communication between the brain cells.

This short-term effect is responsible for the symptom of being drunk when a person consumes alcohol.

When there is excess alcoholism or even occasional binge drinking, it can lead to a blackout.

Blackout phenomenon that is characterised by memory loss or amnesia when there is a heavy drinking episode or frequent episodes.

Even though these symptoms are temporary, when there is consistent and long-term alcohol abuse it can cause permanent changes in the brain.

This will often lead to a condition called impaired brain function.

Heart and alcohol

Heart disease is a major concern in modern society these days. Heart attacks and heart strokes are common.

There is a complex relationship between alcohol and the heart depending on several factors.

Moderate or light drinking is believed to reduce the risk of various heart diseases, while heavy consumption of alcohol would increase the risk.

People believe in possible reasons for drinking moderately can improve there are

However, there is no or very little proof to support these claims.

Alcohol and diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is characterised by elevated blood sugar levels. When a person consumes alcohol in moderation, it appears to reduce the insulin resistance inside the body. However, when alcohol is consumed with meals, it may cut down the reason blood sugar level.

This is known as fasting blood glucose. But when there is heavy or binge drinking, alcohol raises the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Cancer and alcohol

Cancer is a condition that is caused when there is an abnormal growth of cells in the body.

The type of cancer is classified based on its origin. Alcohol consumption paves the way for cancers in the mouth, throat, colon, liver and breast.

The cells lining in the mouth are vulnerable to the harmful effects of consuming alcohol.

Even moderate drinking, like one drink per day, can increase the risk of a person developing mouth or throat cancer. Excessive drinking can cause a multifold increase in the risk of developing such cancers.

Consuming alcohol will also have physical effects on the body like

Damaging the digestive glands

Consuming too much alcohol for a long period of time will damage the pancreas and cause inflammation.

As a result of which, pancreatitis is developed. This is a long-term health condition that can cause serious health complications.

Sugar level

The pancreas in the body helps it to regulate insulin and respond to glucose.

Consuming alcohol can damage the pancreas. Once the pancreas is damaged, it can prevent the body from producing enough insulin to use sugar, leading to a health condition known as hyperglycaemia.

When there is too much blood sugar level, and the body cannot manage it effectively, it can lead to diabetes.

Nervous system

To recognise how alcohol can affect the body, it is important to know how it affects the central nervous system.

When a person is unable to speak properly, it is a key sign of alcohol intoxication. Alcohol will reduce communication between the brain and the body, making speech coordination reaction to pain and balancing difficult for a person.

Over a period of time, alcohol damages the nervous system, and it will affect the ability to

  • Have long-term memory
  • Think clearly
  • make rational choices and control emotions.

Over-consuming alcohol will damage the brain’s frontal lobe, which is responsible for executing various functions like reasoning, decision-making, social behaviour and also managing performance.

Digestive system

There is a direct connection between alcohol and the digestive system. Even though this is not seen immediately, the side effects can appear after the damage is done.

If a person continues to drink despite the damages, it can prevent the intestines from digesting food properly and fully absorbing nutrients or vitamins from the food.

This can lead to malnutrition.  Alcohol can cause other digestive problems like excessive gas formation, bloating, feeling of fullness diarrhoea, and constipation.

Heavy drinking can also cause ulcers that will damage the inner wall of the stomach. If left untreated, it can also be fatal.

Sexual health

Consuming alcohol will lower inhibitions and can disturb sex hormone production and lower libido.

In females, alcohol will also affect the menstrual cycle and increase the chances of infertility.

Bones and muscles

Long-term consumption of alcohol will have an adverse effect on bone density which will lead to thinner bones due to erosion.

Thinner bones may increase the risk of fractures and may also heal slower. Consuming alcohol will also lead to excessive cramping and atrophy.

Immunity

Heavy consumption of alcohol reduces the body’s natural defence system, known as the immune system.

The immune system is the body’s natural way to fight against various foreign agents present in the body.

A weak immune system will have a tough time protecting the body from germs and viruses.

People who drink heavily for a long period of time are more likely to develop various dangerous health conditions like pneumonia or tuberculosis more easily than other people.

Psychological effects

Consuming alcohol for a period of time can lead to various changes in the brain that can disturb memory, concentration, impulse control, mood, emotion, personality and rational thinking.

Alcohol can be a factor in developing various mental health symptoms that resemble various mental health conditions.

Some of them include alcohol-induced bipolar disorder, alcohol-induced psychotic disorder, alcohol-induced depressive disorder and alcohol-induced anxiety disorder.

Alcohol-induced mental health conditions

Alcoholism and mental health are closely linked. Drinking too much can take a toll on mental health. Some people consume alcohol to relieve their emotional stress. But the truth is alcohol is a depressant.

Alcohol can disrupt the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain that affects the feelings and behaviour of a person. The chemical changes in the brain after drinking can soon lead to negative feelings.

Long-term consumption of alcohol affects the neurotransmitters in the brain and causes various mental disorders like depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, psychosis and anti-social behaviour.

Alcohol can make a person withdraw. This condition can be life-threatening.  Some of the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include

In worst cases, symptoms like seizures and hallucinations may occur. Medical assistance is mandatory to help such people with alcohol withdrawal.

How to treat alcoholism?

There are various support options and treatments to help a person quit drinking.

  • There are free online or offline recovery support groups to help a person recover from their alcoholism.
  • Therapy can help a person quit drinking and learn coping skills.
  • Medical treatment to manage the symptoms of an excess of alcoholism.
  • Medications can help reduce symptoms and cravings.
  • Reading more about alcohol’s health effects can help a person quit drinking.

Quitting alcohol is not a quick fix. A person needs to take care of their approach and do it gradually with proper assistance.

Changing the environment can help a person breathe fresh air and quit drinking. This can also help the person mentally to get an alcohol detox.

Practicing a self-care routine by working out regularly and consuming healthy meals can improve overall health.

When to consult a doctor?

Many people consume alcohol in limited quantities, which doesn’t leave a lasting side effect. How heavy drinking or alcoholism can affect the overall health of a person.

Such symptoms cannot be easily managed if a person finds the symptoms of alcoholism affecting their everyday life. It is important to get proper medical assistance or rehab.

To sum up

Alcohol has been a part of modern-day life for many people. Consuming alcohol can impact the body in a negative way.

Even though the impact is not felt right again, the effects of alcohol can damage the overall health of a person.

People who binge drink or regularly consume heavily can notice the health effects sooner. Consuming alcohol in moderation can also have side effects.

It is necessary to know the limits and get treated if the symptoms are uncontrollable.

FAQs

How do you control alcohol in the body?

Some of the ways to reduce alcohol in the body are by
 
1. Measuring the drinks
2. Tracking alcohol intake
3. Dry mouth
4. Formulating a plan
5. Making healthier choices
6. Drinking enough water
7.Consuming healthy meals.

 How much alcohol is safe to drink daily?

An average healthy adult can have no more than 8 to 10 drinks per week. However, it is recommended not to consume alcohol completely to improve overall health and prevent decline.

What is considered heavy drinking?

Heavy drinking is defined as consuming 15 or more drinks per week. Heavy drinking can have many negative health effects.

How much alcohol is okay for the liver?

The amount of alcohol a person consumes can damage the liver. Not more than two drinks per day are advised to keep the liver functioning normally.


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The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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