Alcohol Misuse – Long-term Effects of Alcohol on the Body
We have all heard that alcohol is bad for health. Drinking alcohol can be devastating and even life-threatening. Even a one-time binge can lead to a significant deterioration in health, injury, or death. The long-term effects of alcohol on the body are very serious. Alarming and chronic health problems are inevitable in the long run.
Long-Term Effects of Alcohol
Let’s get acquainted with what alcohol misuse can do to our bodies.
- Blood. Alcohol inhibits the production of platelets, as well as red and white blood cells. This means that one can suffer from anemia, infections, bleeding.
- Brain. Alcohol slows down blood circulation in the vessels of the brain, leading to constant oxygen starvation of its cells, resulting in a weakening of memory and slow mental degradation. Risk of cerebral hemorrhage increases. Alcohol destroys the connections between brain nerve cells, leading to dependence. The destruction of brain cells and deterioration of the nervous system sometimes lead to pneumonia, heart and kidney failure. Developing delirium tremens, a life-threatening condition, is very likely with long-term alcohol misuse.
- Sleep. The short and long-term effects of alcohol on the body also include the quality and quantity of sleep. When a large dose of alcohol is consumed, the first hours of sleep will be deep, but in the second half of the night, the sleep phases are clearly disrupted. A person does not achieve the so-called REM sleep. This phase is necessary for a person’s mental health. In addition, restless sleep is a result of frequent urge to urinate, dehydration, and headaches caused by alcohol consumption.
- Heart. Alcohol misuse and abuse also cause an increase in blood cholesterol levels, hypertension, and myocardial dystrophy. Cardiovascular failure puts the life of the individual at a huge risk. Not using one’s muscles, poor diet and alcoholic damage to the nervous system can lead to alcoholic myopathy, which muscle weakness and pain. The heart muscle is also affected.
- Intestines. The long-term effects of alcohol on the body do not pass the intestines, which are no longer able to fully absorb nutrients and mineral components. This results in health problems associated with malnutrition and vitamin, which are often caused by the neglect of food for the sake of drinking. Stomach inflammation, which can later involve intestines, with an increased risk of ulcers will not be surprising.
- Eyes. Although the short-term effects can be harmful, consuming large amounts of alcohol or abusing it for years can increase the risk of chronic damage to the eyes, optic nerve, and the brain’s processing of visual information. Some studies have also linked it to an increased risk of cataracts, which, if left untreated, can cause blindness. Cataracts usually affect people over the age of 55, but alcohol misuse can speed up this process
- Liver. Considering that 80% of all alcohol entering the body is processed in the liver, it is clear that this organ suffers the most from alcohol: fatty liver, inflammation, and cirrhosis. The liver ceases to do what is meant to – getting rid of toxic metabolic products, the production of blood proteins and other important functions, which leads to the inevitable death of the patient. Ten percent of chronic alcoholics have cirrhosis of the liver, and 75% of people with cirrhosis are alcoholics or have been. Unfortunately, until cirrhosis is well developed, there are almost no symptoms. Alcohol causes 4 out of 5 deaths from liver diseases.
- Pancreas. Alcohol misuse increases the risk of developing diabetes ten times: alcohol destroys the pancreas, an insulin-producing organ, and severely changes metabolism.
- Skin. A drinker almost always looks older than their true age: the skin very soon loses its elasticity and ages prematurely.
- Stomach. Alcohol suppresses the production of mucin, which functions as a protection for the stomach and intestines from acid, pathogenic microorganisms, and mechanical trauma, and this leads to the onset of peptic ulcer disease.
Long-lasting alcohol misuse poses a huge health risk. When alcohol is consumed in excessive quantities for an extended time period or even during a single isolated incident, the body can be severely and irreversibly damaged.
There is no amount of drinking that is completely safe. There is no reliable way to predict how and when a person will suffer from the long-term effects of alcohol on the body. If you or someone you know suffers from alcohol dependence, seek professional help as soon as possible!