Internal organs affected by alcoholism
Which internal organ is affected most by alcoholism?
Alcohol has become the second most widely used substance within the United States. According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 86% of Americans aged 18 and above reported using alcohol at some point within their life.
Drinking on a single occasion or a one-off with your friends is okay, but drinking too much can have severe impacts on your physical and mental health. Drinking can be significant in social events; it helps individuals who suffer from various forms of anxiety relax and enjoy the moment. Still, long-term alcohol consumption can quickly lead to individuals developing alcohol dependence or addiction.
Short-term effects of alcohol on the body
The minute you begin consuming alcohol, your body will start to react no matter how little you may be drinking. Below we have details of which organs within the body begin to respond first to alcohol:
- Heart: Your heart rate will start to increase due to alcohol consumption and the expansion of your blood vessels which results in more blood flow directly to the skin, which results in that warm sensation we feel.
- Liver: Most alcohol is metabolized in the Liver, which filters the circulating blood and removes/destroys any toxic substance, including alcohol. The Liver can only handle a certain amount of alcohol before it becomes overwhelmed, which can cause permanent damage.
- Brain: The brain’s pathways and chemicals will slow when alcohol enters the body. As the brain slows, body movements and reflexes will slow down, your mood may be altered, and your balance will be off. Depending on the amount you drink, you can also begin suffering from sleep issues, memory loss, and learning difficulties.
- Kidneys: Alcohol will start to dehydrate your kidneys, ultimately affecting the body’s way of regulating electrolytes and fluids. Additionally, it can affect hormones that affect kidney function.
Consuming an excessive about of alcohol within a short duration will increase the stress levels on your body and internal organs, which will result in you most likely feeling some sort of hangover the next day. The severity of the hangover will heavily depend on how much you drink you consume. Effects that an individual may experience during a hangover may include but is not limited to:
- Loss of coordination
- Changes in mood
If an individual is to drink excessively, even on a single event, it will increase an individual’s risk of detrimental heart effects; this can include but is not limited to:
- High blood pressure
Long-term effects on internal organs
Consuming alcohol has severe short-term effects and long-term effects that extend beyond your overall mood and health. Below we have noted the long-term effect individuals will experience if they are frequent binge drinkers or are addicted to alcohol.
Digestive and endocrine glands: Consuming too much alcohol can often cause inflammation of the pancreas, resulting in an uncomfortable condition called pancreatitis. The pancreatitis will often cause unbearable abdominal pain, which can cause severe complications.
Central nervous system: Alcohol is known to cause slurred speech when an individual is intoxicated. This indicates that the communication between the body and the brain is at an all-time low. Speech and coordination, balance, and reflex are merely no existent when an individual has consumed too much alcohol, which can place them in dangerous situations.
Over time, alcohol can cause severe damage to your central nervous system; this will often start to take the form of tingling and numbness in your hands and feet. Initial symptoms can further take forms as:
- Long term memory loss
- Unable to think clearly
- Making irrational choices
Individuals who consume a large amount of alcohol for an extended period can further damage their frontal lobe, which is the part of the brain that is responsible for vital functions such as:
- Impulse control
- Brain shrinkage
- Short term memory loss
- Loss of grey matter
- Loss of white matter
Chronic heavy drinkers risk causing permanent brain damage, including developing Wernicke Korsakoff syndrome and brain disorder known to affect an individual’s memory severely.
Circulatory system: Heavy or chronic drinking can severely affect your lungs and heart, which will significantly raise the risk of your developing heart-related health issues. This can include but is not limited to:
- High blood pressure
- Heart failure
- Heart disease
- Heart attack
- irregular heartbeat
- Difficulty pumping blood through the body
- Difficulting absorbing vital minerals and vitamins
Musculoskeletal health risks: Heavy alcohol consumption can weaken your bones, significantly increasing the risk of broken bones and fractures. Individuals addicted to alcohol often have high levels of uric acid and gout.
Increased likelihood of cancer: Alcohol can heavily influence the development of various cancer types. Clear evidence has suggested that heavy or chronic alcohol abuse, particularly when associated with smoking, can affect the outcome of and increase the risk of:
- Breast cancer
- Liver cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Head and neck cancer
- Colorectal cancer
There has also been evidence to suggest that alcohol too contributes to the development of:
- Prostate cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
The internal organ is most affected by alcohol
The internal organ that has been documented to be the most effective by alcohol is the Liver. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism stated that the Liver is the most affected by alcohol. Heavy drinking takes a toll on the Liver. It can lead to various problems and liver inflammations, including
- Steatosis or fatty liver
- Alcoholic hepatitis
However, binge drinking or frequently heavy drinking can take a severe toll on your health and begin interfering with a range of vital organs that you need to work at total capacity to survive.
Finding the proper treatment for you
If you have noticed that you are drinking slightly more than you would like, you crave alcohol, or you are aware that you have an alcohol addiction and would like to find help to stop, then you have come to the right place. Here at Shoreline Sober Living, there are various options available for you, from medical treatment to a therapy session to address your reasons for drinking and help you develop lifelong coping strategies.
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