The Truth about What Alcohol Does to Your Body
Immediate Effects of Alcohol on the Body
When alcohol is consumed approximately twenty percent of it is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and the rest is absorbed while it gets processed through the gastrointestinal tract. Once alcohol enters the bloodstream it can diffuse into almost every biological tissue into the body because cell membranes are highly permeable to alcohol.
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When a person consumes more alcohol than their body can efficiently metabolize than the amount of alcohol in their bloodstream becomes elevated. The amount of alcohol in a person’s blood stream is referred to as their blood alcohol level. The higher a person’s blood alcohol level is the more extreme the effects of alcohol on the body. How fast a person’s blood alcohol level raises and the effects it has on them varies greatly depending on a number of things, including weight, age, gender, body composition, general health, and the presence of other drugs or medications.
Short term effects of Alcohol on the Body
When people begin consuming alcohol they initially may feel increased relaxation, self-confidence, happiness and sociability, but this generally progresses into more negative behaviors. Alcohol consumption leads to slowed reflexes, reduced coordination, impaired thinking, poor judgement, depression, impaired memory, and a decreased ability to control motor functions.
Alcohol use has been linked to violent behavior and an increase in unprotected sex among young adults. Other short term effects of Alcohol on the body include the risk of becoming a victim of sexual assault. Alcohol increases the risk of motor vehicle accidents, suicide, injury, domestic violence and drowning.
Long term effects of Alcohol on the Body
When alcohol is continuously consumed over a period of time it begins to affect the body in many ways. Alcohol consumption increases the risk of many cancers including liver, breast, esophagus, pancreas, mouth, larynx and pharynx. Alcohol use over time can also cause alcohol dependency, better known as alcoholism.
Alcohol dependency is an addictive disorder that is characterized by the inability to control the use or quantity of alcohol consumed, the need to consume increasingly larger amounts of alcohol to achieve the same level of intoxication, and the constant and continuous impulse to consume alcohol. Continued consumption of alcohol effects nearly every part of the body.
Excess drinking causes the liver to accumulate fat, known as fatty liver. Fatty liver can lead to inflammation of the liver which is known as hepatitis. A liver that has become clogged with fat can not perform at an efficient level which affects the rest of the body’s nutritional health. Excessive drinking can also lead to cirrhosis. Cirrhosis of the liver happens when liver cells become so damaged that they cannot regenerate. Once cirrhosis has occurred if a person does not stop drinking they will experience liver failure which is potentially fatal.
Alcohol consumption raises the risk for breast cancer. Research suggests that even so much as one drink a day may increase of person’s risk for breast cancer. Estrogen levels are raised when alcohol is consumed and increased estrogen level is a known risk factor for developing breast cancer.
Alcohol creates irritation and inflammation in the stomach lining which can lead to ulcers and bleeding of the stomach lining. When the stomach lining is severely torn it can lead to anemia.
Excessive alcohol use is a common cause of pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas and it is major risk factor for pancreatic cancer. Heavy drinking also impairs the pancreases ability to produce insulin which can lead to diabetes.
Heavy drinking can be very hard on the heart. It causes cardiomyopathy which is the stretching and drooping of heart muscle, myocarditis which is inflammation of the heart muscle and arrythmia which is irregular heartbeat. When alcohol is consumed it raises blood pressure and blood lipids. This increases the risk of heart attack, hypertension, raised cholesterol and stroke.
Excessive drinking can accelerate the rate of bone deterioration and increase the risk for bone fracture and osteoporosis. Calcium is necessary from strong, dense bones and when alcohol is consumed it acts as a diuretic and flushes calcium from the bones making them weaker and more susceptible to fracture.
Central Nervous System
Alcohol effects the central nervous system causing many short term effects like slurred speech, blurred vision, weakened muscles, decreased reaction time and impaired memory. When alcohol is consumed excessively it can cause cell damage in the central nervous system creating a condition known as neuropathy. Neuropathy causes alternating feelings of weakness, burning, pain and numbness in the feet and hands.
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