Alcohol is a Central Nervous System depressant. It leads to muscles, nerves and tissue relaxation resulting in slowing down of physical and mental functions. Alcohol abuse occurs when a person uses it for a long period of time. The health effects are usually critical if not addressed early enough.
People drink for various reasons such as grief, to numb stress and just for fun. But what they don’t know is that the effects kick in with the first tot of alcohol. The effects differ among people due to factors such as gender, age, body mass index and health state.
Before one can experience long term effects one has to experience some short-term effects such as:
What are some of the short-term effects?
- Slurred speech
- Impaired vision
- Upset stomach
These are usually the first effects of alcohol once in your bloodstream. Long-term use leads to more serious complications such as ulcers, cancer of the throat among others that we will discuss in this post.
Long term effects of alcohol abuse
Chronic alcoholism can lead to wide a range of health complications, some of which can be reversed if detected early enough. If not treated, they can lead to loss of vital body organs and at times sudden death. Alcohol abuse can cause the following:
Alcohol is broken down in the liver. This is why it is susceptible to more damage than any other body organ. Heavy drinking takes a toll on your liver leading to complications such as liver cirrhosis, fatty liver, and fibrosis.
Liver cirrhosis leads to the damage of the liver leading to the formation of scars. The scars interfere with the functionality of the liver, causing it not remove toxins from the body. As a result, toxins and body waste accumulate in your body. This accumulation of toxins leads to numerous organ failure which leads to death.
Alcohol abuse leads to inflammation of the pancreas which can lead to death. Inflammation of the pancreas is caused by the buildup of a digestive enzyme. It interferes with the digestive system leading to persistent diarrhea and severe abdominal pains that is irreversible. According to Medical News Today, around 70% of pancreatitis cases are reported by people who drink large amounts of alcohol.
Heavy intake of alcohol can have an adverse effect on your gut. The effects are not visible but become apparent once the damage is done. As it passes through the gut it destroys stomach and intestinal tissues resulting in a number of complications.
These complications include diarrhea, bloating and gassiness. Severe complications include ulcers which can lead to internal bleeding in the stomach. Since it damages the intestines, absorption of nutrients and minerals becomes inhibited leading to malnutrition.
Heavy alcohol drinkers are prone to several cancers. Scientists believe that alcoholics are more likely to get cancer due to the conversion of alcohol to acetaldehyde, which is carcinogenic. Some of the cancers associated with alcoholism are cancer of the mouth, esophagus, liver, and breast. The risk of getting cancer is even high in alcoholics who use tobacco.
Reproductive health complications
Alcohol abuse can lead to low production of sex hormones leading to low sex drive and low libido. Alcoholics also report cases of increased erectile dysfunction leading to low productivity in bed. This complication has led to the breakup of relationships.
Women who take too much alcohol may stop menstruating which can lead to infertility in the long run. Women who drink heavily when pregnant can risk miscarriage, premature delivery or stillbirth. Pregnant women also put their unborn child at great risk of suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome disorders.
Immune system dysfunction
Heavy drinking drastically lowers your immune system, putting you at a higher risk of contracting infections such as pneumonia and tuberculosis. According to the Health line website, 10% of reported tuberculosis cases can be tied to alcohol consumption.
Heavy alcohol consumption suppresses the production of white blood cells over time. Inadequate production of white blood cells means that the body will be incapacitated to ward off infections. You will become more prone to respiratory diseases, HIV, and other infections.
Alcohol interferes with the overall brain function. It cases mood and behavior change in an alcoholic making him prone to live threating activities such as extreme sports. It is also associated with slurred speech, blurred vision, slow reaction time and memory lapse. Alcohol abuse also depresses the Central Nervous System leading to impaired decision making, and slow processing of information.
Drinking too much alcohol over time accelerates aging of the brain leading to early dementia. It also interferes with your coordination and balance, impairing your ability to walk. This can result in injuries from consistent falls.
Abnormal sugar levels
Alcohol impairs the production of insulin through the damage of the pancreas. Pancreas helps in the regulation of insulin in your body. A damaged pancreas puts you at a higher risk of suffering from hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. The damaged pancreas can also prevent your body from producing adequate insulin to utilize sugar leading to hyperglycemia.
Heavy drinkers, especially young adults, have a greater risk of developing osteoporosis later on in life. This is because alcohol affects the bone health leading to reduced bone mass. It also interferes with the production of vitamin D and calcium weakening the bones further. Osteoporosis increases your risk of getting fractures.
Chronic alcoholics may develop a dependency on alcohol for them to perform daily activities. Due to this dependency, withdrawal becomes hard and at times life-threating. You need a professional to help you through the withdrawal stage. Detoxification is the best method to cut its dependency. Some of the withdrawal symptoms include:
- Heavy sweating
- High blood pressure
- Seizures and hallucinations
Accidents and injuries
Road accidents, suicides, and domestic violence are tied to alcohol abuse. It alters your judging capacity, which leads you to become more violent and engage in life-threating activities.