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What Health Effects Does Alcohol Have?

Alcohol effects

Alcohol is a widely consumed substance that has both short-term and long-term effects on several parts of the human body. When an individual drinks alcohol, it passes through the digestive system into the bloodstream very rapidly, and within minutes it reaches the brain and other organs. In this post, we will discuss the short-term and long-term impact of excessive alcohol intake on various organs and systems within the body.

How Alcohol Is Absorbed and Metabolized

When consumed, it is absorbed into the bloodstream by the stomach and small intestine. From there, the liver comes into action and breaks it down by enzymes. This enzyme is called alcohol dehydrogenase which makes it turn into acetaldehyde, which is itself toxic. The other enzyme is known as aldehyde dehydrogenase which combines acetaldehyde into acetate. It is later metabolized to carbon dioxide and water.

The liver can only metabolize a specific amount of alcohol per hour, approximately equivalent to one standard drink. Consuming it more rapidly than the liver can process leads to increased levels in the bloodstream and body tissues. This results in intoxication as it affects the brain and organs throughout the body. Over time, the effects diminish as the liver eliminates it. However, excessive or chronic consumption can harm the liver and impair its ability to metabolize it effectively.

Short-Term Effects of Alcohol

Alcohol has several Short-Term effects on both the body and mind. Some of the most noticeable include:

  • Impaired memory and judgement: It decreases activity in the hippocampus and frontal lobe, the regions of the brain responsible for memory formation and rational decision-making. This results in loss of memory, lack of mental function and poor judgment while drinking. Some individuals can behave poorly and even become violently assaultive when they are under the influence of alcohol because they have lost their ability to think reasonably.
  • Impaired coordination and motor skills: Alcohol is a depressant that affects the cerebellum which is the part of the brain that controls coordination and balance. It affects coordination by making it impaired, creating shakiness, loss of balance, and slower reflexes. Even such a small dose impairs cognitive abilities important for operations like driving.
  • Slurred speech: It interferes with the communication between the brain and muscles required for clear speech. When under the influence, individuals experience slurred, slowed, and garbled speech. The severity of slurring increases with the amount consumed.
  • Drowsiness: Alcohol has a sedative effect by enhancing the activity of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA in the brain. Many people will feel sleepy, drift into sleep more easily and get a deeper sleep when they take a larger dose. However, the quality of sleep is often compromised.
  • Impaired senses: It leads to the constriction of blood vessels in the eyes and inner ear, resulting in reduced oxygen flow. This manifests as blurred vision, near-sightedness, and dulled hearing after consuming it. Reaction time is also slowed. Conversely, impaired senses and impaired coordination have more chances of having accidents.
  • Slowed breathing: When taken in high doses, it acts as a respiratory depressant, decreasing the breathing rate. This can result in shallow, slowed breathing and raises the risk of asphyxiation, particularly when combined with sedation, which increases the danger of choking on vomit.

Long-Term Effects of Alcohol

Long-term consumption can have harmful effects on the body, causing serious harm over time. Some of the most important long-term effects include:

  • Liver Disease: Chronic alcohol consumption for long periods may result in liver damage and illnesses like fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis. The liver metabolizes it; however, chronic use requires a high load from the liver, and this may finally cause inflammation, and the formation of scar tissue. This makes the liver incapable of performing its duties effectively.
  • Cancer: Chronic use greatly increases a person’s risk of developing several cancers, e.g. mouth, throat, liver and breast, as well as colon cancer. Drinking it for a long period could damage the cells of the body, which might promote DNA mutation and cancer growth. The acetaldehyde that results from the breakdown of alcohol is a carcinogen. It may also inhibit the process of digestion of certain nutrients that help cancer-fighting.
  • Heart Disease: Excessive drinking affects the heart in different ways. The heart has to work harder, resulting in high blood pressure, which also causes cardiomyopathy (drooping and stretching of the heart muscles). This can cause life-threatening complications such as arrhythmia, stroke, and attack. Over time, excessive consumption can lead to irreversible damage to the heart muscle.

The Physical Effects of Alcohol on The Body

  • Effects on the Brain: The beverage affect the brain in different ways by changing the levels of neurotransmitters, interfering with the connection among brain cells and inhibiting the mental faculties. These impacts are visible in the form of mood changes, balance impairment, memory loss, and degradation of cognitive abilities. Chronic drinking can cause long-term damage to brain structures and make the condition worse with neurological disorders.
  • Effects on the Liver: Drinking alcohol can have a great impact on the liver because it is the one that metabolizes and detoxifies alcohol in the body. Chronic alcohol intake can cause inflammation in the liver, fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis, and ultimately cirrhosis. The conditions may be so bad that they cause severe damage to the liver and impair overall health. The risks related to the liver must be understood for people to take the necessary precautions to prevent damage to their livers.
  • Effects on the Heart: It can not only affect positively but also negatively, based on the amount you have been taken. Low intake has a link with a decrease in cardiovascular disease; it may increase “good” HDL cholesterol levels as well as prevent blood clots. Yet, too much intake can have harmful outcomes on the heart, for instance, high blood pressure, arrhythmias, and a higher chance of cardiomyopathy.
  • Effects on the Stomach: It can impact the digestive system in different ways. When ingested it is absorbed straight into the bloodstream from the stomach and small intestine. It may cause damage to stomach tissue and thus may even lead to gastritis or ulcers. It may also affect the normal process of the digestive system by increasing the amount of stomach acid produced to cause heartburn, indigestion, and bloating.
  • Effect on Sugar Levels: Consumption changes blood sugar levels, firstly giving a sudden increase that is attributed to the sugar content in certain drinks and then lowering it after the body processes it. Diabetic people must be careful, because consuming too much alcohol may cause hypoglycaemia, especially for those on insulin or other medicines. Measuring blood sugar levels frequently and limiting it intake goes along with diabetes control methods.
  • Effect on Sexual or Reproductive Health: Alcohol consumption may affect sexual and reproductive health in many different ways. Moderate intake may not be harmful, but heavy or chronic drinking can cause sexual dysfunction, decreased libido, and erectile dysfunction in men, as well as irregular menstrual cycles in women. An excessive intake can also lead to the risk of infertility, miscarriage and birth defects. One also has to be careful with the sexual and reproductive health implications of alcohol consumption and make the right choices for healthy living. Men can consume Fildena to tackle their erectile dysfunction problem.
  • The Psychological Effects on the Body: Alcohol acts as a depressant that lowers the activity of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain related to mood regulation. Chronic alcohol use may also lead to an increased chance of depression, anxiety, and addiction.
  • Depression: It can construe difficult effects with depression. This is because some people may use alcohol to relieve sadness or desperation, but alcohol is very depressive and things become worse with time. When it is consumed too much, the chemical balance between the brain’s neural transmitters is disrupted, which in turn brings about mood fluctuations and may intensify already existing feelings of gloom and despondency. Also, the overuse hinders the efficiency of antidepressant drugs and psychotherapy treatments for depression.
  • Anxiety: Alcohol intoxication temporarily reduces anxiety. On the other hand, the use of it may lead to increased anxiety as the filler effect subsides and it can cause anxiety the next day. For those who are dependent on alcohol, anxiety dramatically increases after removal. Slowly alcohol abuse will change neurotransmitters in the brain and stress reaction in time. This can result in anxiety disorders due to alcohol or exacerbate pre-existing anxiety. The risk of having severe anxiety for people consuming excessive amounts of alcohol is more than twice as high.
  • Addiction: It triggers the reward system of the brain, which can strengthen the habit of drinking. Over time, addiction develops when the consumption becomes necessary to achieve a state of normalcy. It is estimated that approximately 16 million individuals in the United States suffer from an alcohol use disorder.

Genetics account for 50% of alcohol addiction risk. Environmental factors, such as stress, also have an impact. Chronic consumption can lead to changes in the neural pathways of the brain, resulting in a strong desire for alcohol.