EFFECTS OF ALCOHOL ON YOUR BODY

Alcohol’s impact on your body starts from the moment you take your first sip. While an occasional glass of wine with dinner isn’t a cause for concern, the cumulative effects of drinking wine, beer, or spirits can take its toll. If the habit grows or if you find yourself having a hard time stopping after just one glass, the cumulative effects can add up.

EFFECTS OF ALCOHOL ON YOUR BODY

DIGESTIVE AND ENDOCRINE GLANDS

Drinking too much alcohol can cause abnormal activation of digestive enzymes produced by the pancreas. Buildup of these enzymes can lead to inflammation known as pancreatitis. Pancreatitis can become a long-term condition and cause serious complications.

INFLAMMATORY DAMAGE TO LIVER

The liver is an organ which helps in break down and removal of harmful substances from your body, including alcohol. Long-term alcohol use interferes with this process. It also increases your risk for chronic liver inflammation and liver disease. The scarring caused by this inflammation is known as cirrhosis. The formation of scar tissue destroys the liver. As the liver becomes increasingly damaged, it has a harder time removing toxic substances from your body.

Liver disease is life-threatening and leads to toxins and waste buildup in your body. Women are at higher risk for developing alcoholic liver disease. Women’s bodies are more likely to absorb more alcohol and need longer periods of time to process it.

SUGAR LEVELS

The pancreas produces your body’s insulin use and response to glucose. When your pancreas and liver aren’t functioning properly, you run the risk of experiencing low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia. A damaged pancreas may also prevent the body from producing enough insulin to utilize sugar. This can lead to hyperglycemia, or too much sugar in the blood.

If your body can’t manage and balance your blood sugar levels, you may experience greater complications and side effects related to diabetes. It’s important for people with diabetes or hypoglycemia to avoid excessive amounts of alcohol.

CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM

One of the easiest ways to understand alcohol’s impact on your body is by understanding how it affects your central nervous system. Slurred speech is one of the first signs you’ve had too much to drink. Alcohol can reduce communication between your brain and your body. This makes coordination more difficult. You should never drive after drinking.

As alcohol causes more damage to your central nervous system, you may experience numbness and tingling sensations in your feet and hands.

Drinking also makes it difficult for your brain to create long-term memories. It also reduces your ability to think clearly and make rational choices. Over time, frontal lobe damage can occur. This area of the brain is responsible for emotional control, short-term memory, and judgement, in addition to other vital roles.

Chronic and severe alcohol abuse can also cause permanent brain damage. This can lead to a brain disorder that affects memory.

DIGESTIVE SYSTEM

The connection between alcohol consumption and your digestive system might not seem immediately clear. The side effects often only appear after there has been damage. And the more you drink, the greater the damage will become.

Drinking can damage the tissues in your digestive tract and prevent your intestines from digesting food and absorbing nutrients and vitamins. As a result, malnutrition may occur.

Heavy drinking can also lead to:

  • gassiness
  • bloating
  • a feeling of fullness in your abdomen
  • diarrhea or painful stools

For people who drink heavily, ulcers or hemorrhoids (due to dehydration and constipation) aren’t uncommon. And they may cause dangerous internal bleeding.

CIRCULATORY SYSTEM

Alcohol can affect your heart and lungs. People who are chronic drinkers of alcohol have a higher risk of heart-related issues than people who do not drink. Women who drink are more likely to develop heart disease than men who drink.

Circulatory system complications include:

  • high blood pressure
  • irregular heartbeat
  • difficulty pumping blood through the body
  • stroke
  • heart failure

SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH

You may think drinking alcohol can lower your inhibitions and help you have more fun in bed. But the reality is quite different. Men who drink too much are more likely to experience erectile dysfunction. Heavy drinking can also prevent sex hormone production and lower your libido.

Women who drink too much may stop menstruating. That puts them at a greater risk for infertility. Women who drink heavily during pregnancy have a higher risk of premature delivery, miscarriage, or stillbirth.

Women who drink alcohol while pregnant put their unborn child at risk. It may lead to

  • learning difficulties
  • long-term health issues
  • physical development abnormalities

SKELETAL AND MUSCLE SYSTEMS

Long-term alcohol use may prevent your body from keeping your bones strong. This habit may cause thinner bones and increase your risk for fractures if you fall. And fractures may heal more slowly. Drinking alcohol may also lead to muscle weakness, cramping, and eventually atrophy.

IMMUNE SYSTEM

Drinking heavily reduces your body’s natural immune system. This makes it more difficult for your body to fight off invading germs and viruses.

People who drink heavily over a long period of time are also more likely to develop pneumonia or tuberculosis than the general population. About 10 percent of all tuberculosis cases worldwide can be tied to alcohol consumption. Drinking alcohol also increases your risk for several types of cancer, including mouth, breast, and colon.

DEPENDENCY:

Some people who drink heavily may develop a physical and emotional dependency on alcohol. Alcohol withdrawal can be difficult and life-threatening. You often need professional help to break an alcohol addiction.

References:

https://drugabuse.com/featured/the-effects-of-alcohol-on-the-body/

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/ss/slideshow-alcohol-body-effects

 

– Dr.ChandraShekar

 

Does Alcohol consumption affect your Blood Pressure levels?

Drinking alcohol regularly for a long period of time increases your risk of high blood pressure. In addition, alcohol can make you put on weight due to the amount of calories it contains. Being overweight also increases your risk of high blood pressure

Heavy drinking increases the risk of high blood pressure for both women and men. Cutting down on alcohol can help to reduce your risk of getting high blood pressure.

High blood pressure means that your heart has to work harder to pump blood around your body. Hypertension is the medical term for having persistently high blood pressure. It is a major cause of heart attack, stroke, vascular dementia, and chronic kidney disease.

Other effects of Alcohol:

  • Causes damage to liver leading to scarring and cirrhosis
  • Increases gastric secretion leading to acidity
  • Damages the pancreas which interrupts in insulin secretion and leading to increased sugar levels
  • Chronic drinking may affect memory
  • Leads to alcohol dependency
  • May lead to stroke or heart failure
  • Women who drink alcohol while pregnant put their unborn child at risk. It may lead to learning difficulties, long-term health issues ,physical development abnormalities
  • Chronic drinking may lead to weak immune system , which makes susceptible to infections

How much alcohol is safe for hypertension patients?

  • Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure to unhealthy levels.
  • Having more than three drinks in one sitting temporarily increases your blood pressure, but repeated binge drinking can lead to long-term complications.
  • Heavy drinkers who stop suddenly risk developing severe high blood pressure for several days.
  • Heavy drinkers who want to lower blood pressure should slowly reduce how much they drink over one to two weeks.

Besides causing high blood pressure, alcohol can also interfere with the effectiveness and increase the side effects of some blood pressure medications.

For Indians, doctors usually advice avoidance of alcohol intake for various reasons.

Can you drink alcohol when you are taking high blood pressure medication?

There are several types of high blood pressure medicines. Each of them lowers your blood pressure in a different way. High blood pressure medications include:

  • ACE inhibitors – these help to control the hormones that affect blood pressure. 
  • Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) – these work on hormones in the same way as ACE inhibitors.
  • Thiazide diuretics– these get rid of excess fluid in the body.
  • Calcium channel blockers – these medicines have the effect of relaxing the artery walls to expand the arteries, thereby lowering blood pressure.

Most people need to take a combination of blood pressure medicines to ensure that their high blood pressure is controlled as much as possible. 

It is not recommended to mix high blood pressure medications with drinking too much alcohol as it can have an effect on how well they treat your condition. 

While you can drink a small amount of alcohol with some blood pressure medication, some medicines for high blood pressure can cause dizziness or drowsiness. Drinking alcohol can increase these effects, which is why it’s not recommended to drink alcohol while taking them.

Reference:

https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/alcohol-facts/health-effects-of-alcohol/effects-on-the-body/alcohol-and-blood-pressure/

https://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/features/hypertension-and-alcohol#1

https://onlinedoctor.superdrug.com/high-blood-pressure-and-alcohol.html

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/expert-answers/blood-pressure/faq-20058254

-Dr.ChandraShekar

Cirrhosis of Liver

 

What is Cirrhosis of Liver?

Cirrhosis is a slowly progressing liver disease which involves loss of liver cells and irreversible scarring of the liver. Eventually a healthy liver tissue is replaced with scar tissue, eventually preventing the liver from functioning properly.

Complications of cirrhosis include edema, ascites, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, variceal bleeding, hepatic encephalopathy, hepatorenal syndrome, hepatopulmonary syndrome, hypersplenism, and liver cancer.

Cirrhosis is estimated to have resulted in in 1.2 million deaths globally in 2013, up from 0.8 million deaths in 1990. Nearly one-third of this is estimated to be due to alcohol abuse. Continue reading “Cirrhosis of Liver”

What is the right amount of alcohol?

What is the right amount of alcohol?

Excess of alcohol can cause several long term health issues. While it is recommended to avoid alcohol altogether (more so, if you have certain pre-existing health conditions), one may undertake a regulated alcohol consumption without causing major issues.

Here are some guidelines for alcohol intake in various groups. Continue reading “What is the right amount of alcohol?”

High on alcohol or high on life – Choice is yours!

Downside of alcohol consumption

In a survey conducted by the Social Development Foundation of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) amongst 2000 teenagers (15-19 years old) in cities like Mumbai, Kochi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Indore, Patna, Pune, Delhi, Chandigarh and Dehradun, it was noted that liquor consumption was most prevalent in Delhi and Mumbai followed by Chandigarh and Hyderabad. The reason cited for initiating alcohol intake was mainly peer pressure and also absent parents, easy money, and rising stress and depression.

In today’s fast-paced lifestyle with increased stress accompanied by loneliness, depression and the desire to ‘fit in’; more youngsters are resorting to alcohol as much as adults and elderly. Let us see what are the perils of “getting high” on this so called stress-busting beverage! Continue reading “High on alcohol or high on life – Choice is yours!”