Alcohol is a powerful substance that when consumed, can trigger a number of physiological reactions. While some of the adverse effects of alcohol disappear relatively quickly, drinking can also lead to long-term changes in your physical health and well-being.
Here are 10 things that alcohol does to the body:
1) Leads to Dehydration
Alcohol is what’s known as a diuretic, a substance that signals the kidneys to produce more urine than you usually do. In the short term, excess urination can cause muscle cramps and headaches, while over time, chronic alcohol-related dehydration can lead to acne, liver and kidney damage, and reduced cognitive functioning.
2) Triggers Production of Excess Gut Bacteria
Alcohol use causes an increase in gut bacteria. Over time, excess bacteria can migrate through the intestinal wall and damage the liver.
3) Causes Pancreatitis
Inflammation of the pancreas, a long gland situated in the upper abdomen that helps to regulate glucose processing, is linked to alcohol consumption. Better known as pancreatitis, this painful condition can come on quickly, leading to severe stomach and back pain, vomiting, increased heart rate and fever.
4) Increases Risk of Some Cancers
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lists alcohol as a carcinogen, which is a substance that’s known to cause certain types of cancers in humans. Cancers of the head, throat, liver, breast and colon are all linked to alcohol use.
5) Weakens Immune System
Alcohol stresses the body’s immune system, and that can lead to a weaken immune response among alcohol users who are exposed to virus-based illnesses such as the common cold, influenza and COVID-19.
6) Raises Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is common among individuals who require drug and alcohol treatment. Having more than three standard servings of alcohol at one time can cause a temporary spike in blood pressure readings, while chronic alcohol abuse can lead to long-term cardiovascular issues.
7) Depletes Vitamin B Levels
Heavy drinking has been shown to cause low levels of vitamin B1, also known as thiamine. When the body doesn’t have enough B1, problems such as short and long-term memory loss, lack of physical coordination and sleep disturbances can emerge.
8) Causes Sexual Dysfunction
Men who drink alcohol often experience difficulties achieving and maintaining an erection. While this is usually temporary among those who only drink occasionally, chronic alcohol abuse can lead to long-term problems with sexual functioning.
9) Nerve Damage
Nerve damage is commonly experienced by individuals who struggle with alcohol abuse. This can present as pain and a tingling sensation in the hands and feet, and can lead to problems with fine motor skills, balance and coordination.
10) Leads to Bone Loss
Chronic alcohol use is linked to permanent bone loss, or osteoporosis. This can lead to increased bone fractures, poor dental health and loss of mobility.
Concerned About Your Alcohol Use?
If you’re concerned about the impact your alcohol consumption is having on your health, wellness and relationships, know that help is available. Contact our professional, compassionate intake counselors today to learn about your alcohol addiction treatment options.