If you are someone who drinks alcohol its likely you've experienced first-hand at least some of its short-term health effects, be it a hangover or a bad night's sleep. It's the longer term health effects of alcohol that people often only experience once its too late.
From a disturbed night's sleep to alcohol's effects on the body can have a varying impact on our lives. Alcohol's effects vary from person to person, depending on a variety of factors:
- How much you drink
- How often you drink
- Your age
- Your Health status
- Your Family history
While drinking alcohol is itself not necessarily a problem, drinking too much can cause a range of consequences, and increase your risk for a variety of problems.
Alcohol enters the blood stream as soon as you take your first sip. Alcohol's immediate effects can appear within about 10 minutes. As you drink, you can increase your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level, which is the amount of alcohol present in your bloodstream. The higher your BAC, the more impaired you become by alcohol's effects. The effects are:
- Reduced inhibitions
- Slurred speech
- Motor impairment
- Memory problems
- Concentration problems
- Breathing problems
Other risks of drinking include:
- Car crashes and other accidents
- Risky behavior
- Violent behavior
- Suicide and homicide
People who drink too much over a long period of time may experience alcohol's longer-term effects, which include:
- Alcohol dependence
- Health problems
- Increased risk for certain cancers
- Alcohol poisoning
Effects of Alcohol on the body:
- The Brain: Alcohol interferes with the brain's communication pathways, and can affect the way the brain looks and works. These disruptions can change mood and behavior, and make it harder to think clearly and move with coordination.
- The Heart: Drinking a lot over a long time or too much on a single occasion can damage the heart, causing problems like *Cardiomyopathy -stretching and drooping of heart muscles*, Arrhythmias - irregular heart beat, Stroke, High blood pressure. However, research also shows that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol may protect healthy adults from developing coronary heart disease.
- The Liver: Heavy drinking takes a toll on the liver, and can lead to a variety of problems and liver inflammations e.g Steatosis, or fatty liver, Alcoholic hepatitis, Fibrosis, Cirrhosis.
- The Pancreas: Alcohol causes the pancreas to produce toxic substances that can eventually lead to pancreatitis, a dangerous inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels in the pancreas that prevent proper digestion.
- Cancer: Drinking too much alcohol can increase your risk of developing certain cancers, including cancers of the Mouth, Esophagus, Throat, Liver, Breast.
- The Immune system: Drinking too much can weaken your immune system, making your body a much easier target for disease. Chronic drinkers are more liable to contract diseases like Pneumonia and tuberculosis than people who do not drink too much. Drinking a lot on a single occasion slows your body's ability to ward off infections - even up to 24 hours after getting drunk.
Finally, fetal alcohol exposure occurs when a woman drinks while pregnant. No amount of alcohol is safe for pregnant women to drink. Alcohol can disrupt fetal development at any stage during a pregnancy - including at early stages and before a woman knows she is pregnant. Research shows that binge drinking, which means consuming four or more drinks per occasion, and regular heavy drinking put a fetus at the greatest risk for several problems.
Alcoholism is continued excessive or compulsive use of alcoholic drinks. A medical condition in which someone frequently drinks too much alcohol and becomes unable to live a normal healthy life...