Alcohol – There are only two words in Webster’s dictionary that have ever given me instant joy.
Don’t judge; I know they’re secretly your favorites as well. After all, a drink a day keeps the doctor away, right?
Have you ever listened to a drug commercial and in the end, there is a laundry list of side effects? Well, the list of side effects of alcohol is quite similar. Although not a drug, alcohol acts like one and affects the body just as similarly as any medication on the market, particularly a medication with a long list of frightening side effects, including death. Although it sounds extreme, death is a very real side effect that can be severely underestimated when alcohol is consumed in excess of moderate amounts. In order to prevent becoming a victim of one too many happy hours, it is important to know your limits:
1) How much is okay to drink (moderation)?
2) How much is too much to drink (legally)?
Keep reading to see how alcohol affects every part of your body and remain responsible for the amount you consume so that your experiences will be enjoyable and not detrimental to your health.
How is an alcoholic drink defined?
From head to toe, here are the side effects of drinking alcohol, especially drinking more than your body can handle.
The structure and function of the brain changes with excessive drinking.
- Cognition, memory, and behavior are impaired
- Sleep is affected. Alcohol has a reputation as a self-medicating sleep aid- while tossing a few back helps get you to sleep, it won’t keep you there because it also interrupts sleep.
- Stress leading to depression and anxiety
- Vision changes
- Decreased reaction time
While a hearty glass of red wine has been shown to prevent and reduce the risk of developing coronary artery disease, more than enough drinks will contrarily cause your heart to work too hard. This results in irregular heartbeats, stroke, and possibly an enlarged heart.
Alcohol weakens the immune system, making it difficult for your body to fight off infections and more susceptible to illness.
The morning after hangover consists of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Alcohol can thin the lining of the stomach, causing irritation and even bleeding ulcers.
The pancreas assists in metabolizing alcohol and, when inflamed, results in pancreatitis. This is a recipe for more nausea, vomiting, digestive issues, and severe pain.
The liver is the organ that breaks down alcohol when you drink. It does this at a constant rate over a certain period of time depending on how much you drink. If you drink too much, the liver becomes overwhelmed and is unable to properly break down alcohol. This inflammation and trauma results in liver diseases like hepatitis or cirrhosis.
Too much alcohol affects the natural formation of bones by killing the cells that make bones and increasing the ones that breakdown bones. Chronic alcohol consumption can ultimately lead to bone conditions like osteoporosis.
Empty calories from alcohol contribute to weight gain. And no one (well, most of us) wants that.
Alcohol can increase the effects of some medications, and medications can also increase the effects of alcohol. In either case, it will lead to severe health problems.
There are many other factors that affect how alcohol affects the body, however that creates a rabbit hole of scenarios we can’t get into at the moment, but here they are:
- Body type
The bottom line: drink & enjoy responsibly. Make sure you are of age. Make sure you know your limits. Don’t drink and drive. Enjoy yourself.