Alcohol is the second most popular substance in the United States, behind tobacco. And although it can make you feel happy, friendly, and pleasant within a short period of time, chronic, long-term, or excessive drinking can lead to alcohol addiction or dependence. Alcohol abuse is often associated with mental health and other cognitive issues, but the truth is, it doesn’t only affect the mind; it affects the entire body. Today we’ll take a look at the physical effects of alcohol on the body.
Alcohol Affects The Immune System
Now that we’re in the midst of a pandemic, more people are worried about their immune systems than ever before. So, did you know that drinking alcohol reduces your body’s immune system? Not only does it make it harder for your body to fight off viruses and germs, but it also increases your risk of developing tuberculosis and pneumonia. Furthermore, drinking alcohol has also been shown to increase a person’s risk of developing certain types of cancer, including colon, breast, and mouth.
Alcohol Affects the Digestive And Endocrine Glands
Consuming large amounts of alcohol can also negatively affect the body’s digestive and endocrine glands. In large doses, it leads to the pancreas activating the abnormal production of digestive enzymes. When too many of these enzymes are present, it causes a condition known as pancreatitis, which is a long-term illness that can lead to other serious complications.
Alcohol Affects The Digestive System
And speaking of the digestive system, the problems don’t stop with the abnormal production of enzymes. While the connection between drinking alcohol and the body’s digestive system isn’t immediately noticeable, side effects will appear once the damage has been done. And the more a person drinks, the more damage will occur.
Drinking causes damages to the tissue inside the digestive tract, which can prevent food from being properly digested. It also affects the absorption of vitamins and other nutrients, which can cause malnutrition. Other digestive symptoms can include bloating, diarrhea, painful stools, gassiness, and a general feeling of fullness in the abdomen. Those people who continue to drink heavily are at a higher risk of developing hemorrhoids, ulcers, and even dehydration.
Inflammatory Damage Caused By Alcohol
The liver is the body’s organ that breaks down and removes harmful substances from the body. And long-term alcohol consumption begins to interfere with this process. So, drinking can lead to liver disease, chronic liver inflammation, and cirrhosis or scarring of the liver.
Alcohol Affects Muscle And Skeletal Systems
Alcohol abuse is also known to prevent your body from keeping the bones strong. This results in thinner bones that are more susceptible to fractures during a fall and longer healing times. When long-term alcohol use is present, it can cause muscle cramping, weakness, and atrophy.
Alcohol Affects the Heart And Circulation
If you already suffer from high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease, consuming even smaller amounts of alcohol can exacerbate these conditions. For this reason, alcoholics are at an increased risk of congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, and even heart attacks. Even worse, the adverse effects on the circulatory system can lead to a higher risk of having a stroke.
Alcohol Affects Reproductive And Sexual Health
Some people think that it’s a good thing when alcohol lowers your inhibitions and leads to having a better time during sex. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, drinking too much alcohol can cause erectile dysfunction in men, as well as lower libido and sex hormone production.
And women who drink too much will also begin to see adverse effects in this category as well. For starters, it can cause a woman to stop menstruating and lead to infertility. And women who decide to drink while pregnant may experience miscarriage, premature delivery, and stillbirth. Even if the unborn baby does make it, there are additional risks known as fetal alcohol syndrome disorders. When this condition is present, it can cause other conditions such as long-term health issues, learning difficulties, physical and developmental abnormalities, and increased emotional problems.
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Alcohol Causes Unwanted Weight Gain
If you’re looking to lose weight, then the last thing you want to keep in your diet is alcohol. It has a high caloric content which can impact your waistline over time. It can also make you choose more unhealthy food choices and feel hungrier more often.
Symptoms Of Alcohol Withdrawal
Finally, anytime there is a dependency on a substance present, trying to quit cold turkey will generally cause withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol withdrawal can be complicated and even life-threatening sometimes. This is why you should always seek professional help to overcome alcohol addiction. The worst part is that alcohol withdrawal symptoms can include nausea, anxiety, tremors, heavy sweating, high blood pressure, nervousness, irregular heartbeat, delirium, seizures, and more.
Effects of Alcohol on the Body: The Bottom Line
While alcohol can increase a person’s fun in the short term, it can cause many adverse health effects in the long run. So, if you don’t drink alcohol, it’s never a good time to start. However, if you already drink and consider yourself an alcoholic, it’s never too late to get help to quit. The best part is you will begin to feel better and be able to think more clearly! And you may even increase your life expectancy in the process!