Health, Physical Health

6 Long-term Effects of Alcohol on Your Body

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What happens to alcohol in your body?

After alcohol is swallowed, it is rapidly absorbed into the blood through your stomach (20%) and small intestine (80%).

You start to notice the effects of alcohol within 5-10 minutes, and the effects peak within 30-90 minutes of consumption. 

Your liver is responsible for breaking down alcohol, a toxic drug to water and carbon dioxide (90% of breakdown happens here).

Rest alcohol is excreted through the lungs, kidneys, which convert alcohol into urine and skin by sweating. 

Depending upon consumption levels, alcohol causes the following:

  1. Slurries
  2. Vomiting
  3. Diarrhoea
  4. Headache
  5. Breathing difficulties
  6. Distortion in vision and hearing
  7. Black-outs
  8. Impaired balance
  9. Serious dehydration
  10. Impaired judgement

Nearly 3.2% of deaths worldwide every year are a result of alcohol. 

Long-term effects of alcohol

1. Liver Damage

Every time you consume alcohol, some of your liver’s cells die. Now, your liver is a strong guy, and it regenerates. But, with time and excessive alcohol consumption, your liver loses the ability to regenerate, causing irreversible liver damage

Your liver is responsible for many vital body functions, and a damaged liver can be your end. 

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2. Damage to Enzyme-producing Glands

Your endocrine system is responsible for seamless communication between various organs of your body. The constant internal temperature inside your body is maintained by the endocrine system as well. 

The endocrine system also plays a crucial role in the process of Homeostasis (the body’s ability to maintain a constant internal temperature). 

According to the study’ Effects of Alcohol on the endocrine system‘, excessive alcohol consumption hampers the communication between the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems. Which leads to hormonal imbalance and extreme changes in psychological and behavior levels.

3. Damage to Central Nervous System

The role of the Central Nervous System can be broadly classified into 3 functions:

  • Sensory Input
  • Information Processing
  • Motor Input

Effects of alcohol on your Central Nervous System are rather evident.

Slurred speech is a sign of slowing your drinking. Alcohol is known to hamper communication between your brain and different parts of the body. This makes coordination a task, and you might have difficulty balancing, which is also why drinking and driving is prohibited. 

Alcohol’s effect on the Central Nervous System can be observed by numbness and tingling sensations to your hands and feet. 

4. Damage to Digestive System

The connection between alcohol consumption and your digestive system might not seem immediately apparent. However, the effects often only appear after there has been damage. And the more you drink, the greater the damage will become.

Effects of alcohol on your digestive system effects aren’t visible until too late.

Excessive drinking causes tissue damage throughout your digestive tract and reduces the ability to digest food. 

Drinking is also known to cause gassiness, bloating, and excretory problems in your body. 

5. Damage to Sexual and Reproductive Functions

Research shows that men who drink excessive alcohol are more likely to experience erectile dysfunction. Excessive alcohol use also inhibits the production of sex hormones resulting in lowered libido. 

Excessive drinking in women leads to a disrupted menstrual cycle, risk of infertility, and premature miscarriage in the future.

6. Damage to Immune System

Your immune system is your bodyguard. It protects your body from foreign particles and pathogens that enter and attack. A robust immune system is the key to a long and healthy life.

According to Mayo Clinic, alcohol weakens your immune system and significantly increases the risk of developing infections. 

Alcohol alters your gut biome, which consists of good microbes that aid your body’s various functions and aid immune response. Unfortunately, this further weakens your immune response. 

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Takeaway

The bottom line is that excess of anything is bad. Alcohol in moderation is fine. However, it is better to stay off it, considering the drastic effects on your body.