Hey there, party animals! You know those Friday nights when you’re out with your friends, clinking glasses and making memories? When the atmosphere is lively, the music is pumping, and the anticipation of a great time hangs in the air? A night out with a drink (or several) in hand can seem like the perfect way to unwind and celebrate life. But here’s the thing…
While the occasional toast won’t hurt, it’s crucial to understand that excessive alcohol consumption can lead to some serious damage, and we’re not just talking about the hangovers.
In this blog, we’re going to take a closer look at how alcohol affects the body. There’s more to the story than meets the eye, and it’s time to peel back the curtain on the often-overlooked consequences of heavy drinking.
Alcohol in the brain
Let’s kick things off with the head honcho, your brain. You might’ve heard that alcohol kills brain cells. While it doesn’t entirely kill off every cell in the brain, it can cause serious brain damage.
Alcohol affects neurotransmitters, like serotonin, leading to mood swings and contributing to conditions like depression and anxiety. Chronic alcohol use can shrink your brain’s gray and white matter, resulting in a higher risk of dementia. Drinking impairs the cognitive system and messes with your memory, slows down your responses and impairs your judgment. So, that dance move you thought was so smooth? Not so much.
But let’s not forget the immediate impact on your brain like blackouts, slurred speech, and impaired coordination. Slower reaction time for your brain can make it harder to recognize what you’re seeing and it may take longer to decide what to do about it. Leaving you vulnerable to your environment.
Additionally, alcohol can increase the risk of seizures and migraines, especially for those who are prone to them. It’s not all fun and games when it comes to alcohol and the brain.
Alcohol and Sensory System
Ever wonder why your vision gets blurry after a few drinks? That’s because alcohol muddles with your eye muscles, making it harder to focus; therefore creating visual disturbances.
It also reduces your ability to distinguish between primary colors and grays, making impaired driving extremely dangerous, especially in dense fog. Let us not forget to mention that alcohol slows pupil reactions which can lead to difficulty constricting and dilating. This can be a major problem with oncoming headlights, streetlights and any light since it’s creating halos around lights. Drinking also causes peripheral impairments which can result in tunnel vision.
While all of these can be short term effects from drinking, the long term effects can have irreversible permanent damage that can lead to vision-related conditions like cataracts and neuropathy.
Alcohol and Cardiovascular Health
- It’s been said that a small amount of alcohol consumption (red wine) might have some cardiovascular benefits due to antioxidants called polyphenols, but overindulging is a different story.
Excessive drinking can lead to high blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, cardiomyopathy, and even heart failure. It can negate any potential benefits and bring a host of heart-related issues.
Alcohol and Respiratory System
Chronic drinking can lead to lung infections like pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
Respiratory function during sleep can be affected by alcohol. It decreases the natural breathing cycle of your airway muscles which can interfere with the gag reflex. This can make you more prone to choking on your own vomit, especially if you pass out after you have drank more than your body could handle.
It can decrease signals to the brain and central nervous system. Which means it also alters circadian rhythms, induces insomnia, decreases REM sleep and increases snoring and your risk of sleep apnea. Alcohol relaxes the airway muscles which can block the flow and interrupt your breathing, causing you to wake up due to a drop in oxygen levels and an increase in carbon dioxide levels. This can lead to depression, poor metabolism, heart disease and insulin resistance.
Alcohol and Hepatic system
The liver is our very own detox hero. But guess what? Alcohol is the villain of the story! Your liver processes other toxins in the body, too. So, when you introduce alcohol excessively, it has to work overtime. This can potentially lead to a build-up of harmful substances in the liver, decreasing your immune system and overall health.
Your liver can metabolize alcohol, but excessive drinking can overload it and cause fatty liver disease, hepatitis, and cirrhosis. Remember, your liver is a champion, but it’s not invincible.
Alcohol and Digestive System
Ever heard of gastritis? It’s the inflammation of your stomach lining. Often attributed to alcohol. Not to mention, alcohol irritates the esophagus, leading to acid reflux and heartburn.
It also messes with the pancreas, which can cause problems in digestion and sugar regulation. Excessive consumption of alcohol can also cause other severe digestive issues like pancreatitis, a painful inflammation in the pancreas that can be life-threatening.
Alcohol and Renal Health
Your kidneys are responsible for filtering waste and fluid balance in your body. But alcohol can disrupt the balance. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it will make you pee more, potentially leading to dehydration.
With excessive drinking, you can have various alcohol-related diseases like stones in the kidneys. In addition to that, alcohol also increases blood pressure, putting additional strain on the kidneys. Kidney disease can progress silently, so it’s essential to keep your alcohol consumption in check and monitor your kidney health.
Some Last Words
There you have it, folks! A comprehensive guide on the long-term impact of alcohol on your body. While an occasional drink can be consumed responsibly, it’s essential to be aware of the potential consequences of excessive alcohol consumption.
And if you’re seeking guidance, support, or a deeper connection through your spirituality, that’s where MYPlantRN comes in. We’re a unique platform that offers exceptional sessions to help you on your journey to well-being. We provide a welcoming and inclusive space for all individuals.