There are many effects of long-term alcohol abuse. Alcohol in moderation is not a problem, but when you abuse alcohol over many years, it is very detrimental to your health. Alcohol abuse can affect every organ in your body, not just the liver as everyone hears. Alcohol can damage every part of the body’s entire system.
Alcohol Abuse and Cirrhosis of the Liver
The main physical problem we all know about with alcohol abuse is cirrhosis of the liver. The liver is the largest organ in the body and performs many vital functions. It manufactures bile, which is a substance which aids in food digestion. The liver also produces blood proteins which aid in clotting, immune system functioning, and transporting oxygen to other parts of the body. It breaks down saturated fat and produces cholesterol, and one of the primary functions is ridding the body of harmful substances in the bloodstream which includes drugs and alcohol.
Cirrhosis is a disease where the healthy tissue in the liver is replaced with scar tissue. Over time, this interrupts all of the functions of the liver. The most common causes of cirrhosis in the United States are Hepatitis C, alcohol abuse, and fatty liver. There are many more problems which can cause cirrhosis; however, these are the three most common.
Alcohol Abuse and Dementia
It has been proven that as people age, their brains get smaller. This shrinkage is a normal part of aging; however, heavy drinking speeds this process. This heavy drinking results in memory loss and other signs of dementia such as solving problems, making good judgments, and the ability to pay attention when others are talking. Someone who is a heavy drinker damages brain cells which contribute to these symptoms.
Gout, A Painful Condition
Gout is a disease which is caused by the development of uric acid crystals in the joints. Gout is a very painful condition which is not necessarily caused only by alcohol, but alcohol contributes to it. Most people, although not all, who suffer from gout are drinkers. Alcohol consumption does increase the levels of uric acid in the body.
Long-Term Alcohol Abuse and Pancreatitis
Long-term alcohol abuse can result in a condition known as pancreatitis. Chronic pancreatitis prevents the digestive tract from functioning properly. It causes abdominal pain and diarrhea. Pancreatitis is different from gastritis which is a stomach irritation. Prolonged heavy drinking can cause irreversible damage to the pancreas. An individual could have an acute episode of alcohol-related pancreatitis causing nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Stopping alcohol consumption at an early stage could halt the progression and even when it has already been established at least lessen the number of episodes the individual experiences.
Alcoholic neuropathy is a form of nerve damage caused by heavy drinking. This creates the feeling of pins and needles sticking in your extremities. This is peripheral nerve damage. Alcoholic neuropathy can affect sensation in your extremities, as well as movement. This disease is not life-threatening. However, it can make your quality of life very poor. Alcoholic neuropathy also affects your urinary system. You may have trouble starting urination and may not feel as if your bladder is completely emptied. Another symptom of this is incontinence.
Here, we discuss only a minuscule part of the damage you do to your body when you drink heavily for an extended period. If you are a heavy drinker or know that you have alcohol dependence, please seek help through and alcohol and drug treatment center. Don’t take the chance of developing these diseases and ruining your quality of life, both physically and emotionally. Get help today.