Right from the moment you take your first sip alcohol makes an immediate impact on your body. While drinking the odd glass of wine or pint of beer after work is not going to cause you any real issues, the cumulative effects of drinking can lead to long-term issues.
Here are 6 things drinking alcohol does to your body.
It Weakens Your Immune System
Excessive drinking over time significantly damages your immune system. Consequently, your body has a harder time fighting off viruses and germs entering your body. Research has found that people who drink to excess over long periods of time are more prone to develop pneumonia and tuberculosis, compared to those who consumed alcohol in moderation. In fact, about 10% of tuberculosis cases worldwide can be linked to alcohol intake.
Drinking alcohol has also been shown to increase the risk for cancers including mouth, colon and breast. This risk is prominent in those who are struggling with alcoholism. It is important to be able to recognise an addiction or the steps leading to it. Check out White River Recovery Netherlands to learn more about what you can do if you are dependent on alcohol. There is no shame in seeking help and it is better to get help sooner rather than later as alcohol will continue to take its effect on your immune system and body as a whole.
It Affects Your Sexual And Reproductive Health
There is a common misconception that drinking alcohol will lead to having more fun in bed. It is quite the opposite as men who drink too much are likely to experience erectile dysfunction. This is because too much alcohol prevents the production of sex hormones in your body, which can also lower your libido. As for women, those who drink to excess may experience irregular periods or even stop menstruating altogether. This can later lead to issues with infertility. Drinking while pregnant can be fatal to the health of your baby, as it puts them at risk of premature delivery, miscarriage and stillbirth. Additionally, pregnant women who drink can cause conditions in their baby such as fetal alcohol syndrome disorder, learning difficulties, physical abnormalities and general health complications.
It Reduces Your Sleep Quality
While alcohol can help you get to sleep quickly, you will end up having a bad night’s sleep. This is because your body is still processing the alcohol which leaves you tossing and turning all night. You won’t be able to achieve REM sleep, and this is what makes you wake up feeling restored. What’s more, heavy drinking increases your chances of nightmares and vivid dreams. Some people who have a dependency on alcohol use the drink to help them get to sleep, but this is a very short term gain as they will continue to have poor quality sleep and this has been linked to poor mental and physical health. This can be a catch 22 because alcoholics will use drink to help with their poor mental health, but in doing so, they are impeding their sleep quality which will make their mental health even worse over time.
If you struggle with getting to sleep there are tips and tricks online to help you fall asleep quicker and have healthier sleeping patterns.
Overtime It Can Shrink Your Brain
This one comes as a surprise to people as heavy drinking for a long time can actually cause your brain to shrink. The booze causes the cells in your brain to change and this can impact your memory and your ability to think. Additionally, heavy consumption of alcohol affects the frontal lobe, which is responsible for functions including decision making, problem solving and judgement. These kinds of side effects from the drink make it harder for those suffering from alcohol addiction because staying sober is more difficult now that their decision-making processes have been damaged. In simpler terms, their ability to think clearly has been taken away because of the alcohol’s damage to the brain.
What’s more, it also makes it more difficult for your body to retain a stable temperature and hinders your ability to control your movements.
It Affects Your Circulatory System
Drinking alcohol affects your circulatory system, i.e your heart and lungs. Research has found that those who frequently drink to excess compared to those who do not drink experience a far greater risk of developing heart-related problems. The relationship between heart disease and alcohol is stronger for women, as women who drink are more likely to experience heart disease than men who also drink. Common heart and lung complications include the following.
- Heart failure
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
- Cardiac arrest
These are just a few examples of the complications alcohol can cause. Another lesser-known issue is that alcohol can impede your ability to absorb vitamins and minerals which can cause anemia. Anemia presents several symptoms, however, the most common symptom is fatigue. In severe cases, fatigue can be debilitating.
It Can Lead to Thinned Bones
Excessive drinking affects your calcium levels. This combined with the hormone changes that alcohol causes a thinning and weakening of your bone. If this process continues you increase your risk of osteoporosis, which is a condition for fragile and thinned bones. This condition is serious because you increase your risk of fractures and breaks if you fall. Not only this, but the recovery time will also be slower as a result of the alcohol.
Alcohol also reduces the blood flow to your muscles and can limit the proteins that are needed to build them up. As a result your muscle mass will shrink, leaving you feeling weaker. Additionally, the booze can leave to muscle cramping and in the long run, potentially even atrophy.
Heavy drinking can lead to several problems and can significantly hinder your quality of life. While drinking socially with friends or in moderation is unlikely to cause you any issues, it is important to be mindful of the effects that alcohol can have on your body.