In Focus: The Damaging Effects of Alcohol on the Body
Knowing the severity of alcohol’s negative effects on the body will definitely make you think twice about going to that party or getting yourself a bottle of beer. What starts out as harmless fun can possibly lead to a lifetime of pain and suffering, or even death. Discussed below are the various ways in which alcohol drinking can affect different vital organs and body processes.
Slurred speech, blurry visionand an inability to walk straight—these are just a few of the signs that show that alcohol obviously impairs proper functioning of the brain. But these are just minor to the possible long-term effects that alcohol inflicts on your mental health. These include the following:
- Stress and anxiety
- Memory impairment
- Cognition problems
According to some studies, a drink of alcohol a day can be good for the heart. Researchers from the University of Calgary reviewed over 80 studies from 1980 to 2009, and found that moderate drinkers had up to 25 percent reduced risk of heart disease. Although this is good news for drinkers, here’s the catch: the drinking has to be moderate, only one to two drinks per day. Since alcohol increases your tolerance overtime, maintaining that limit can be even more difficult than quitting for good.
Heavy drinking whether chronic or one time can have severe damaging effects on the heart, causing the following issues:
- Cardiomyopathy (poisoning of heart muscle cells)
- Arrhythmia(irregular heart beat)
- High blood pressure
- High blood pressure
- Heart failure
- Heart attack
Chronic drinkers, especially those of the female gender are at a higher risk of developing heart disease.
Like the brain and heart, the liver is another vital organ in the body whose failure to function can be potentially fatal. Some of its most important functions include:
- Storing and breaking down of glycogen from sugar
- Processing proteins and fats from food
- Removing toxins from the body
When you consume too much alcohol, it can take a toll on your liver health. It causes these three major ailments:
- Fatty liver – accumulation of fat in the liver cells that increases the risk of hepatitis
- Alcoholic hepatitis – inflammation of the liver characterized by abnormal levels of liver enzymes in the blood
- Cirrhosis – damage in the liver cells and development of scar tissue or fibrosis, hindering the liver from functioning properly
Compared to the first three organs, the pancreas doesn’t get as much attention. But this small organ located at the back of the stomach below the ribcage is more important than we realize. For one, it produces digestive juices necessary for breaking down food. Also, it produces hormones like insulin, which is responsible for regulating blood sugar. When you drink heavily, alcohol damages the cells in the pancreas and causes it to become inflamed, thus causing the condition called pancreatitis.
Pancreatitis is of two types: acute and chronic. Symptoms of acute pancreatitis include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and fever. For chronic cases, symptoms are severe pain in the abdomen, ribs and back, weight loss, diarrhea, foul-smelling gases, and jaundice or yellowing of the eyes and skin.
As if all these adverse effects are not alarming enough, you should also know that too much alcohol can weaken the immune system, and make the body prone to infections and diseases. With a compromised immune defense, it is much easier to contract tuberculosis, pneumonia, bronchitis, and other infectious diseases. What’s even scarier is that alcohol’s harmful effects on the immune systems last much longer after exposure, even after alcohol is no longer detectable in the blood. Alcohol may seem to help you unwind and relax but if you look closely at the adverse effects it has on your brain, heart, pancreas and immune system, you would probably prefer looking for other ways to have fun.
About the Author: Jessica Max is a professional writer/blogger located in the USA. She has also written several books and manages a number of blogs ranked highly in Google. She can be reached at [email protected]
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