Human Body and Alcohol
An alcoholic drink is a frequent “guest” at parties and a true “friend” during times of depression; it is a trusted, simple and affordable good mood booster. People are used to drinking alcohol beverages as something harmless that probably results in a disturbed night’s sleep or causes alcohol withdrawal symptoms in the morning. But in fact, this insidious and at first glance nonthreatening, drink leaves much deeper marks on the body. Often they remain until the end of life, causing severe and sometimes incurable disorders and diseases.
Alcohol’s mechanism of action on the human body
Ethanol or ethyl alcohol is a strong substance contained in a different amount in any alcohol drink. Be it a shot of vodka or a glass of wine, the effects of alcohol are similar: both are absorbed by the body almost instantly since ethanol enters the blood and, therefore, the most important organs in a minute after intake. The thing is that ethanol is not assimilated by the body like foods but it does cause the secretion of gastric juice needed for food digestion even if there is no food. This is one of the reasons of a dangerous alcoholic poisoning. There are three stages of how alcohol affects the body:
- Once in the stomach, alcohol starts to be absorbed immediately. It gets into the bloodstream without any pretreatment and digestion. In the blood, alcohol meets alcohol dehydrogenase, the enzymes that break down about a fifth of ethanol by oxidation. By the way, a female body has a lower concentration of this enzyme, that is why the ladies drinking alcohol get drunk faster than men. This factor provokes more rapid alcohol dependence in women and results in visually vivid signs of alcoholism not to mention health concerns.
- The rate of alcohol metabolizing in the small intestine in much higher than in the stomach. That explains why a person drinking an alcoholic beverage does not get drunk immediately but after a short time. Alcohol permeates across the water in the human body, what makes about 60% of the whole body weight. That is why the side effects of alcohol are devastating for the whole human organism.
- Getting the alcohol out of the body takes much longer than its absorption. From 2% to 10% of alcohol is removed through breathing, sweat, urine, saliva, and feces. That is where the alcohol-laden breath comes from. The rest of the alcohol is oxidized and eliminated from the body within a few days. Continued drinking results in high blood alcohol level and leads to alcohol addiction.
Health effects of alcohol
Even though alcohol ads warn that alcohol should be enjoyed responsibly, after drinking some alcohol a person can hardly think responsibly. Poor decision-making, slow thinking, deferred reaction, cognitive changes – are only some short term effects of alcohol intake. Recreational drinkers of alcohol beverages recover from these effects without any serious complication, however, binge drinkers normally experience long term effects of alcohol, which result in severe health problems. Most common of them are the following:
- Alcoholic fatty liver – this is the initial degeneration of the cells of liver healthy tissues. It is characterized by a feeling of weakness, heaviness, and pain in the upper right area of the abdomen. The liver gets larger and abnormal;
- Alcoholic hepatitis – this is a chronic and progressive form of the disease that results from long term effects of alcohol. The symptoms include enlarged and painful liver caused by continued alcohol poisoning, poor appetite, yellow whites of the eyes;
- Alcoholic cirrhosis – drinkers with such disease have serious alcohol problems. They suffer severe emaciation, weakness, lethargy, nausea and vomiting. The patients with cirrhosis have little to no chance for recovery because of irreparable processes in the body caused by the side effects of alcohol. People with the aforementioned signs of alcoholism should be hospitalized and treated under thorough doctor’s supervision;
- Cardiovascular system disorder – much alcohol causes high blood pressure condition even in hypotensive people. As a result, the risk of stroke and heart attack is very high;
- Stomach diseases – both short term and long term effects of alcohol cause stomach disorders. Being subject to continual alcohol poisoning, a stomach condition may grow into gastritis, ulcer and even cancer;
- Pancreas disorders – pancreas is very sensitive to alcohol toxins, thus acute alcohol poisoning can cause inflammation of the pancreas that results in severe nausea and vomiting.
We have only enumerated health problems caused by alcohol dependence but social and psychological aspects should not be neglected either. Alcohol abuse results in a higher level of divorce rate, not to mention children who risk to develop traits similar to an alcoholic. All of the factors coupled together create a picture of destructing alcohol addiction impact. So before you decide to boost your mood with a glass of wine, think of harmful effects of alcohol and discover a better way to have fun.