Other than immediate effects for drinking too much like nausea and vomiting, heavy drinking has been known to affect a person’s health dangerously in many ways.
- Brain damage
- Heart and circulation
- Weight gain
- Sexual health
- Mental health
Binge drinking can cause blackouts, memory loss and anxiety. Long-term drinking can result in permanent brain damage and serious mental health problems. Generally, youth under 21 years of age are the most vulnerable as their brains have yet to complete development. Teenagers especially, are risking damage to parts of the brain, altering behavior and the ability to learn and remember.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization has classified alcohol as a Group 1 carcinogen. Other dangerous agents classified in the group include gamma rays, asbestos (type of insulation), formaldehyde, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C virus, solar radiation, etc. Cirrhosis of the liver, a liver disease that causes permanent scarring of the liver, often leads to liver cancer. Compared with non-drinkers, women who consume 2 to 5 drinks daily have about 1½ times the risk of women who drink no alcohol.
High blood pressure, an affect of long term drinking, increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. It can also cause heart failure when heart muscles weaken, affecting vital organs like the lungs, liver and brain. It may also lead to irregular heartbeat, a disease related to sudden death.
Lung infections happen more in drinkers than non drinkers, often leading to pneumonia and collapse of the lungs.
Initially it causes fat deposits to develop in the liver. With continued excessive drinking the liver may become inflamed resulting in alcoholic hepatitis which can result in liver failure and death. Compared with men, women develop alcohol-induced liver disease over a shorter period of time and after consuming less alcohol. Women are also more likely than men to develop alcoholic hepatitis and to die from cirrhosis.
Drinking above recommended limits can lead to stomach ulcers, internal bleeding and cancer.
Alcohol addiction can also lead to malnutrition because it can alter digestion and metabolism of most nutrients. Severe thiamine deficiency is very common due to deficiency of folate, riboflavin, vitamin B6 and selenium. Muscle cramps, nausea, appetite loss, nerve disorders and depression are some common symptoms.
Heavy or prolonged use of alcohol can cause inflammation of the pancreas, which can be very painful, causing vomiting, fever and weight loss, and can be fatal.
Heavy drinking may result in ulcers and cancer of the colon. It also affects your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and vitamins.
Heavy drinking can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, a leading cause of chronic kidney disease.
Impotence and infertility are two common health effects. Drinking when pregnant may seriously damage the development of the unborn baby.
Alcohol dilates the channels in the cellular structure that regulates the flow of calcium, causing more calcium than normal to flow into the cells and stimulating increased activity. It can also lead to osteoporosis and bone fractures due to vitamin D deficiency (Vitamin D helps in calcium absorption).
Although most alcohol is fat free and low in carbohydrates, it is high in calories. 1 bottle of beer has about 150 calories while 1 pint has more than 200 calories.
Alcohol dehydrates your body and your skin while widening blood vessels at the same time, causing skin to look red or blotchy.
Being drunk impairs a person’s judgement, prompting mistakes that results in unwanted repercussions like STD, HIV, hepatitis or even worse, unplanned pregnancy.
Alcohol affects the brain, causing slurred speech, clumsiness, slow reflexes, and a loss of inhibition. The consumption of alcohol does not kill brain cells but rather damages dendrites, the branched ends of nerve cells that bring messages into the cell. This does not kill the whole cell, but causes a loss of the end segments, leading to the loss of incoming signals and therefore a change in brain function.
Alcohol stimulates insulin production which speeds up glucose metabolism and can result in low blood sugar.
If you have been binge drinking or drinking wayyyyyy above the recommended maximum alcohol units per week, then you should start making the effort to reduce your drinking effectively TODAY.