In brief bursts, effects of alcohol may make one feel joyous, pleasant, and gregarious; nevertheless, prolonged, excessive, or chronic drinking can result in alcohol addiction or dependence, which is medically known as an alcohol use disorder. Chronic alcohol consumption is linked to a number of other cognitive and mental health problems, such as memory or learning difficulties, as well as to the exacerbation or development of major mental health conditions including anxiety and depression.
Alcohol has an impact on the body in addition to the mind. Research indicates that even when drinking within advised limits, a person’s overall risk of dying from a variety of reasons, including many cancers and some types of cardiovascular disease, may increase.4 This page will address many often asked issues concerning alcohol’s short- and long-term effects on the body, as well as how it impacts your physical health.
What Effects Does Drinking Have on Your Physical Health?
The danger of alcohol use begins the minute you take your first sip and can harm your body’s health and wellness in any proportion. An estimated 95,000 individuals (about 27,000 women and 68,000 men) die each year from alcohol-related causes; over half of these fatalities are the result of long-term health consequences from excessive drinking, such as liver or heart disease.
Is a Certain Amount of Alcohol Safe?
While there are protective aspects for the cardiovascular system associated with low to moderate alcohol use, a comprehensive 2018 study published in The Lancet contends that there is no such thing as a really “safe” level of drinking. “If adults age 21 and older choose to drink alcoholic beverages, drinking less is better for health than drinking more,” states the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
While the Guidelines recommend that women should only have one drink each occasion and males should restrict their consumption to two drinks per occasion. (Women metabolise and absorb alcohol in different ways than do males.)8 If you do drink, the risk of dying from any cause is higher for people who use more alcohol on average than for those who consume less. Reducing your alcohol intake is therefore beneficial for your health.
Alcohol’s Short-Term Effects on the Body
Your body responds to alcohol in many ways, even in little doses:
Brain: Alcohol depresses your mood, slows down reflexes, and throws off your equilibrium by slowing down the hormones and neural connections in your brain that regulate your body. It may also be a factor in issues with memory, learning, and sleep.
Heart: When you drink alcohol, your heart rate goes up and your blood vessels dilate, increasing blood flow to your skin and making you feel warmer. However, this heat escapes through your skin, causing your body temperature to drop once it has increased.
Digestive: The stomach is where alcohol is initially broken down, which causes the production of more digestive fluids. In addition to irritating the colon and small intestine, where alcohol is further broken down and absorbed, alcohol can also alter the natural rate at which food passes through these organs, leading to bloating, diarrhoea, and discomfort in the abdomen.
Kidney: Drinking alcohol dehydrates the body, which can have an impact on the kidneys and the body’s capacity to control electrolyte and fluid balance. Hormones that influence kidney function are also disturbed by it.
Liver: The liver breaks down and eliminates harmful compounds, including alcohol, and filters blood. It also metabolises most alcohol. The liver has a limit to how much alcohol it can withstand, but if a person drinks too much, the stress on it can become irreversible.
Binge drinking, or consuming large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time, puts more strain on your body and internal organs and might leave you feeling hungry after a night of drinking. An excessive amount of alcohol consumption can cause indigestion, headaches, vomiting, diarrhoea, and severe dehydration.
Drinking too much alcohol raises the chance of negative cardiac consequences, even if it’s just once. Among these impacts are:
A condition known as cardiomyopathy makes it more difficult for your heart muscle to pump blood.
- An unpredictable heartbeat is called an arrhythmia.
- elevated blood pressure.
- a stroke.
Alcohol poisoning can also result from consuming excessive amounts of alcohol in one sitting. This might happen if your body is unable to properly eliminate the alcohol from your system due to an overload from the amount you consumed. Your heart rate, respiration rate, and gag reflex may all suffer as a result. Serious alcohol poisoning can cause death or put a victim in a coma.
Alcohol’s Long-Term Effects on the Body
The long-term effects of alcohol use, particularly excessive and prolonged consumption, have the potential to harm several essential organ systems in your body. Among these health hazards are: 3, 16, 17, 18, 19, and
Risks to cardiovascular health. Overindulgence in alcohol consumption can increase cholesterol levels in addition to the cardiovascular consequences and danger of heart disease already discussed.
dangers to brain health. Alcohol’s long-term effects on the brain can affect behavior, memory, and learning. Abuse of alcohol can lead to:
- reduction in brain size.
- grey matter loss.
- Diminished white matter.
dangers to liver health. Despite being a powerful organ, your liver cannot withstand the long-term effects of alcohol, which raises your risk of:
- Hepatic steatosis.
- drink-related hepatitis.
- Hepatic cancer.
Dangers to pancreatic health, such as vitamin deficits. Alcohol consumption and inadequate food intake are linked to vitamin deficiencies. Pancreatitis, or inflammation and enlargement of the pancreatic blood vessels, may be brought on by long-term alcohol use. Your capacity to process food and absorb nutrients may be harmed by this.
Immune system hazards. Long-term excessive drinking might weaken your body’s defenses against illness and infection.
Higher chance of developing cancer. Alcohol is recognized as a carcinogen and has the potential to affect the development of several cancer types. Extensive research indicates that excessive alcohol use, especially when combined with smoking, may impact the onset and heighten the danger of cancers such as breast, liver, esophageal, head and neck, and colorectal.
Additionally, there appears to be a higher chance of pancreatic, prostate, and melanoma cancer. Alcohol use of 3.5 drinks or more per day can raise the risk of head and neck cancer by at least 2-3 times, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Conclusion on the effects of alcohol:
Thus, excessive alcohol use can harm the kidneys by increasing blood pressure. Finally, liver damage can result from long-term, excessive alcohol intake. As you are aware, the liver plays a crucial role in the excretory system’s ability to eliminate harmful compounds from the blood.