How Alcohol Can Affect Your Body?

April 30, 2020

It’s in the head.
How does alcohol affect the brain and body? Alcohol begins to change your brain about 30 seconds after you drink it. You may feel sluggish and unresponsive. You may notice changes in your mood and balance. Alcohol impairs long-term memory, so you may not remember what you did or said while you were drinking.

Smaller brain.
Another effect of alcohol on the body is that long-term drinking shrinks the brain and changes the way the brain works. Drinking changes and shrinks brain cells. This, in turn, affects your ability to learn, think and remember. You may have difficulty regulating your body temperature and controlling your movements.

Does it help you sleep?
Alcohol can make you sleepy, so you’re likely to fall asleep more easily. But alcohol impairs the quality of your sleep. When you sleep, your system metabolizes alcohol. Once it’s out of your system, you’re likely to wake up and toss and turn. Alcohol impairs REM sleep, and you need this type of sleep to feel fully rested and restored. Alcohol also increases the risk of nightmares and vivid dreams. You may also wake up more frequently to use the restroom.

Increased stomach acid
Alcohol affects the walls of your stomach and increases the production of stomach acid. When stomach acid builds up when you drink alcohol, you may experience nausea and vomiting. Heavy alcohol consumption over a long period of time may lead to stomach ulcers. High levels of stomach acid can affect your sense of hunger. Alcoholics also often suffer from malnutrition.

Diarrhea and heartburn
Alcohol irritates the intestines and colon and may reduce the transit time of food in the body. The result is that if you drink a lot, you may get chronic diarrhea. Alcohol also relaxes the esophageal sphincter, which keeps the stomach contents where they belong. When this happens, you may have acid and food returning to your esophagus, causing heartburn and reflux.

Always running to the bathroom.
Your brain makes antidiuretic hormone, or ADH, which affects your kidneys’ ability to make urine. When you drink alcohol, your brain doesn’t make as much of this hormone, so you have to urinate more often. This can lead to dehydration. Drinking large amounts of alcohol over a long period of time is not only toxic to your body, it’s also hard on your kidneys.

damage the liver
The liver breaks down alcohol when you drink and it processes toxins. Prolonged heavy drinking can lead to the accumulation of fatty tissue in the liver, which damages the liver. This impairs the flow of blood through the liver and liver cells are affected. As the liver tissue is irreparably damaged, it forms scars and does not work well. This is known as cirrhosis of the liver.

Alcohol-induced pancreatitis and diabetes mellitus
The pancreas produces insulin and compounds that help the intestines break down food. Alcohol impairs this process. The toxins in alcohol cause the pancreas to become inflamed. If this process continues over time, the pancreas may lose its ability to make insulin, which can lead to the development of diabetes. Prolonged heavy alcohol consumption can also increase the chances of developing pancreatic cancer.

What happens to a hangover?
Perhaps one of the most well-known short-term effects of alcohol on the body is a hangover. Alcohol dehydrates you and enlarges the blood vessels in your brain and body. This will produce headaches. Your stomach detects the toxins in alcohol and wants to get rid of them, so you may feel nauseous and vomit. The liver works overtime to process the alcohol so it doesn’t release sugar into the bloodstream. You may feel weak and shaky.

Effects on the heart
How does alcohol affect the body? First, it affects the heart. Heavy alcohol consumption affects the electrical impulses responsible for the heart’s beating. Prolonged heavy drinking can permanently alter the heartbeat and increase the risk of cardiomyopathy. Excessive alcohol consumption can also increase the risk of stroke and high blood pressure.

Changes in body temperature
Alcohol causes your blood vessels to widen and relax, so you blush. You lose body heat, which in turn can lead to hypothermia. Long-term, chronic alcohol consumption increases blood pressure by increasing the production of cortisol, a stress hormone that narrows your blood vessels. This, in turn, makes your heart work harder to pump blood throughout your body.

Impact on the immune system
Here’s a link between alcohol consumption and health that you may not be aware of: your immune system. Alcohol suppresses the immune system. About 24 hours after you drink alcohol, you’re more likely to get sick and your white blood cells will decrease. Studies have also shown that people who drink heavily over a long period of time have a much greater risk of developing pneumonia and tuberculosis.

hormonal change
Hormones affect sexual desire, digestion, reproduction and sexual function. Drinking alcohol alters hormone levels and can affect all of these processes. If you drink a lot of alcohol, you may notice that it affects your libido, digestion, menstrual cycle, and ability to get pregnant. Men may notice difficulty getting an erection, reduced sperm count and testicular atrophy when they drink heavily.

Hearing loss
Alcohol consumption can negatively affect hearing, but the mechanism is unknown. Some people believe that alcohol affects the areas of the brain that process sound. Alcohol may damage the small hairs in the inner ear that are necessary for hearing. Or it may damage the nerves in the inner ear. Over time, you may notice that you need to hear them louder in order to hear them. People who have been drinking alcohol for a long time tend to have hearing loss.

Thin bones, little muscle.
Heavy alcohol consumption alters calcium levels and can affect the levels of hormones needed for new bone growth. Drinking alcohol can cause bones to become thinner and weaker, which is known as osteoporosis. Alcohol affects blood flow to the muscles and interferes with the growth of new muscle tissue. Habitual excessive alcohol consumption can lead to loss of muscle mass and weakening of strength.