HEALTH AND LIFESTYLE

Married to alcohol? Here is how alcohol affects your body

After years of heavy drinking, those changes add up.

In Summary

•A few seconds after your first sip, alcohol starts to change how your body works. After years of heavy drinking, those changes add up. 

• That is why your best bet is to enjoy alcohol in moderation.

Drunk illustration
Drunk illustration
Image: Pixabay

High alcohol abuse has been thought to contribute to increased morbidity and mortality among Kenyan adult men and now women are seemingly joining the list.

Many chase the short-term ‘high’ effect and ignore the long-term consequences. But what they do not know perhaps is that just a few seconds after your first sip, alcohol starts to change how your body works and after years of heavy drinking, those changes add up.

Drinking too much over the long run, could get you serious health problems, according to WebMD, overindulgence could lead to heart disease or liver damage. That is why your best bet is to enjoy alcohol in moderation.

Image: WEBMD

STOMACH ACID

The connection between alcohol consumption and your digestive system might not be immediately clear but people tend to notice them after the damage has already happened.

Alcohol irritates the lining of your stomach leading to gastritis or painful sores called ulcers.

Heavy drinkers may also have constant feelings of fullness, gas, bloating, and even painful vomiting.

MALNUTRITION

Drinking damages the lining of your digestive tract, this may prevent the intestines from digesting food and absorbing nutrients and vitamins properly.

This can in turn cause heavy drinkers to lose a lot of weight.

HEART AND LUNGS

Difficulty in absorbing vitamins and minerals from food due to malnutrition can cause fatigue and anemia, a condition where you have a low red blood cell count.

New research finds drinking alcohol more dangerous to the heart than previously thought. The results suggest that drinking more than 70 grams of alcohol per week is associated with worsening pre-heart failure or progression to symptomatic heart failure.

Heavy drinkers also have a risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, heart disease, and heart failure.

The constant heart burns occur when our small intestine and colon get irritated. Also because alcohol relaxes the muscle that keeps acid out of your esophagus, the tube that connects your mouth and stomach.

Lamu nurse Connie Zighani takes the blood pressure vital of Abdulali Karimjee at Mkunguni square in Lamu island.
Lamu nurse Connie Zighani takes the blood pressure vital of Abdulali Karimjee at Mkunguni square in Lamu island.
Image: CHETI PRAXIDES

You risk becoming a diabetic and having pancreatic damage

Normally, the pancreas makes insulin and other chemicals that help your intestines break food. Drinking too much alcohol jams up the whole process.

The chemicals along with toxins from alcohol stay inside the pancreas and they can cause inflammation in the organ over time, which can lead to serious damage.

After years, according to Web MD, you will not be able to make the insulin you need, which can lead to diabetes and It also makes you more likely to get pancreatic cancer.

Ear check up
Ear check up
Image: medicalnewstoday.com

HEARING LOSS

According to the Vestibular Disorders Association, alcohol changes the volume and composition of fluid in the inner ear, which can cause dizziness and imbalance as well as hearing loss. That's because both hearing and balance are located within the inner ear.

The dizziness you experience when you have had one too many can be accompanied by ringing in the ears. This happens when alcohol causes blood vessels to swell resulting in greater blood flow within the inner ear. The condition might be temporary or permanent.

CONSTANT URINATION, LIVER DISEASE

Alcohol dehydrates your body by stopping your kidneys from producing a hormone that keeps it from making too much urine.

When the balance is off, this means you have to go to the bathroom more often. That extra workload and the toxic effects of alcohol can wear your kidneys down. As your liver breaks down the alcohol you drink, over time, heavy drinking makes the organ fatty and lets thicker, fibrous tissue build up.

That limits blood flow, so liver cells do not get what they need to survive and as they die off, the liver gets scars and stops working as well, a disease called cirrhosis.

To reduce the risk of alcohol-related harms, the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults of legal drinking age can choose not to drink, or to drink in moderation by limiting intake to 2 drinks or less in a day for men or 1 drink or less in a day for women, on days when alcohol is consumed.

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