Alcoholism Effects On The Body

Alcoholism Effects: alcohol abuse can lead to serious health issues.

How alcoholism effects your health can be quite severe. The health issues associated with alcoholism can range from anemia to more serious problems like blood clotting, cirrhosis of the liver, or heart disease.  Alcoholism increases the risk of cancer in the esophagus, liver, mouth and pancreas. It can cause both hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia. Alcohol can lead to liver disease, kidney disease, and heart disease. If the alcoholic continues to drink over extended periods of time, they can become vulnerable to serious health problems such as liver failure and permanent brain damage.

The effects of alcoholism on the brain:

Alcohol causes a myriad of physical and psychological problems to the brain. Alcoholism can affect one’s mood and is frequently associated with depression, anxiety and certain psychological problems such as obsessive compulsive disorder, panic attacks and sleep disorders. Alcohol can cause memory loss, confusion and affects sensation, perception and motor skills. Alcohol cuts the supply of oxygen that is needed in the brain. As a result, a lack of oxygen will damage the cells in the brain. Excessive consumption over time can cause permanent brain damage.

The effects of alcoholism on the stomach and esophagus:

Fifty percent of cancers affecting the esophagus and other parts of the mouth are related to alcoholism. In addition to an increased risk of cancer, alcoholism weakens the esophagus and the stomach lining which can cause vomiting and tears to its tissue. Alcohol also irritates the gastro-intestines which can produce ulcers and erosion to its lining.

As almost everybody knows, excessive alcohol consumption can irritate the stomach. Over time, this irritation may result in gastritis, a condition where your stomach becomes inflamed.  With gastritis, a person may experience bleeding, acid reflux, and other digestive problems. 

The effects of alcoholism on the intestines:

In this area of the body, alcohol irritates the lining of the cells. As a result, the intestines have trouble absorbing and processing the nutrients that pass through it. Excessive alcohol consumption is thought to be an added risk factor for colon cancer.

The effects of alcoholism on the on the heart:

Alcoholism can result in a variety of heart disease including elevated blood pressure, irregular heart beats, and can even lead to heart failure. Alcohol raises blood lipids and can cause strokes.

The effects of alcoholism on muscle tissue:

Some types of arthritis are linked to alcoholism.  Furthermore, alcoholism can result in muscle atrophy. Muscle atrophy is a condition where the muscle tissues of the body deteriorate. Muscle atrophy can be very debilitating. Symptoms include weakness and muscle pain.
The effects of alcoholism on the kidneys:

Alcoholism can lead to enlarged kidneys and can cause kidney failure. Renal failure is another very serious consequence associated with alcohol abuse. The reason this happens is because  the kidneys get overworked when a person an excessive amount of alcohol over time. This greatly reduces the kidneys ability to function properly which can result in a myriad of other potential health concerns.

Alcohol is also a diuretic which increases the release of the body’s fluids during urination. This can cause dehydration which is believed to be one the causes of hangovers.

The effects of alcoholism on the liver:

Cirrhosis is a well-known consequence associated with alcoholism.  It occurs when the liver develops too much scar tissue. Excessive alcohol consumption can also cause a build up of fat on the liver and cause alcoholic hepatitis (inflamed liver).

The effects of alcoholism on the lungs:

A fact that is often surprising to some is that alcohol can lead to severe repertory problems ranging from pneumonia to the collapse of a lung. Alcoholism reduces immune function which can often result in  lung infections.

The effects of alcoholism on the pancreas:

Alcoholism may cause your pancreas to leak digestive enzymes, resulting in inflammation. The pancreas starts to attack itself, thinking that the enzymes are a foreign body. Alcohol can also lead to certain types of pancreatic cancers.

The effects of alcoholism on the reproduction system:

Excessive alcohol consumption can interfere with the body's natural hormone production. With men, this can mean increased estrogen levels and lower sperm production. Some studies have even shown that some men may even experience increased breast size and a loss of facial hair. Women can experience problems with ovulation, a process that is controlled through estrogen and other feminine hormones. 

Alcoholism can cause Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome results in physical and behavioral abnormalities to the fetus during pregnancy. Often these effects can be permanent.

The effects of alcoholism on nutrition:

Alcoholism can result in malnutrition. Alcohol is a high caloric carbohydrate which contains very few essential nutrients. It has also been known to decrease the appetite. The more a person drinks, the less they will eat. Typically, alcoholics do not consume enough nutrient rich calories. Furthermore, alcohol affects the body’s capacity to metabolize nutrients effectively. Alcohol impairs the absorption of vitamins and minerals needed for healthy organ functioning.

Societal Issues of alcohol abuse:

Apart from the physical conditions that alcohol can cause on the body, alcoholism has serious and often devastating effects on one’s social status and personal relationships. Alcoholics are more likely to abuse their spouses, go through divorce, or have troubles maintaining consistent employment. In the most serious cases, alcoholism can lead to the loss of one’s home, children and family ties.

Alcoholism affects the family system by putting a great deal of strain on loved ones. Unfortunately, those who are the closest to the alcoholic will often make excuses and try to cover up the problem. Feelings of shame and embarrassment often plague the families of alcoholics. Denial also plays a powerful role and the children of alcoholics often suffer the most. This is particularly true when the children of alcoholics have to take on the role of caretaker or are the subjects of physical and emotional abuse.

©2011 SignsofAlcoholism.org


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