Alcohol Can Do More To Your Health Than Just Ruin Liver

December 14, 2017

Alcohol Can Do More To Your Health Than Just Ruin Liver

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You must have encountered at least one person in life with fatty liver disease arising due to overconsumption of alcohol. However, most of you may not have even heard or thought about the fact that excess alcohol consumption may damage your hips and vision. Additionally, it may suppress immunity to the level that you are no longer able to protect yourself against a myriad of other diseases.

Alcohol addiction is a major problem today that affects people from all walks of life and belonging to different age groups. There are several million people out there who indulge in binge or risky drinking on a routine basis, unknowingly making their lives miserable than ever.

The situation is so severe that as many as 40 percent of the hospital beds in the United States are used to treat patients with health conditions related to alcohol overuse. Around 2.5 million people lose their precious lives each year due to alcohol addiction, out of which around 88,000 deaths take place in the US alone.

Alcohol Abuse vs. Alcohol Dependence

Alcohol abuse is often the first step to addiction. Someone is likely to suffer from alcohol abuse if they drink every day or too much at a time and indulge in risky drinking behavior. When not managed for long, alcohol abuse may turn into alcohol dependence, also known as alcoholism.

People who suffer from alcoholism are addicted to alcohol and crave for it at all times. They constantly believe that they need alcohol to get through anything they do during the day.

People who are dependent on alcohol typically show the following symptoms:

Any woman who takes more than 3 drinks at a time or consumes more than 7 drinks a week is likely to become alcohol dependent. Similarly, any man who consumes more than 14 drinks a week or more than 4 drinks at a time is at a risk of alcohol overuse.

Physical, Mental, and Social Impact of Alcohol Addiction
Little do people know that alcohol can affect their lives in a variety of ways. It may not only deteriorate your physical health but your mental and social well-being is also affected.

Alcohol may terribly affect relationships to an extent that the outlook of the other person towards you may change completely. Alcohol addiction has a psychological impact as well as it triggers panic, hallucinations, psychosis, depression, antisocial behavior, cravings, irritability, delusions, and sleep disorders.

Alcohol dependence may affect an individual in a plenty of ways. From brain to stomach, lungs to throat, intestines to the heart, there is no organ in the human body that may not get affected by alcohol overuse. The following are some of the ways by which alcohol overuse may affect different body parts:

  • Brain: Addiction and withdrawal, memory loss, loss of learning, coordination problems, seizures, stroke, depression, and anxiety
  • Eyes: Blurred or reduced vision
  • Mouth: Oral cancer and slurred speech
  • Liver: Cirrhosis, fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, liver failure, and fibrosis
  • Throat: Cancer, bleeding, irritation, and difficulty in swallowing
  • Lungs: Problem in breathing normally
  • Pancreas: Inflammation
  • Muscle: Weakness and loss of strength
  • Bones: Osteoporosis and loss of bone tissue
  • Heart: Irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, heart enlargement, and cardiac muscle weakening
  • Stomach: Ulcers, bleeding, lesions, and irritation in gastric lining
  • Intestines: Cancer, abdominal pain, irritation, nausea, and diarrhea
  • Reproductive system: Menstrual irregularity, impotence, and infertility

A pregnant woman addicted to alcohol not only ends up affecting her own health but also affects the health of the fetus in a big way. It has been scientifically proven that alcohol consumption during pregnancy may lead to miscarriage, in addition to low birth weight or intrauterine growth retardation.

A fetus exposed to high levels of alcohol during pregnancy may suffer from intellectual and social problems, growth deficiencies, and central nervous system dysfunction during childhood among other health problems related to the brain, heart, and kidneys.

Alcoholism: Treatment and Management
An alcohol-dependent person is often treated by a team of professionals and experts who focus on three aspects – stabilization and detoxification, abstinence and rehabilitation. Each of these aspects have their own line of treatment modes used to achieve the desired results. For example, stabilization and detoxification are often achieved with the help of drug therapy and dietary changes.

During stabilization, medications such as lorazepam, diazepam, and pentobarbital are used to treat symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal, including sweating, anxiety, and shakiness. The person is given magnesium, vitamin B1, and folate supplements.

Detoxification primarily involves complete cessation of alcohol consumption. During detoxification, the same medications are given in moderation until the withdrawal symptoms are completely gone.

Rehabilitation includes short-term and long-term programs for people who were once severely dependent on alcohol. These are mostly residential programs that focus on developing skills and techniques to prevent the person from relapsing. Apart from alcohol use, such programs also focus on other aspects of alcohol addiction such as relationship problems, mental health, career counselling, and psychiatric issues.

Outpatient counselling and educations programs can also be organized to educate the person about signs of relapse and make them learn skills that can help them stay away from alcohol.

Staying sober for long is an essential aspect of recovery. Alcoholics are often asked to join support groups to share their story and seek motivation from people who were once dependent on alcohol but later manage to stay sober.

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