Drinking is something that most people enjoy. Not many know that there is a thin line between alcoholism and moderate drinking. One doesn't have to be a binge drinker to be affected by the ills of drinking. Timely alcohol treatment can prevent the undesirable consequences of alcoholism. The following facts would help you understand the effects of alcohol on the liver and will make the picture much clearer.
When we look into the short-term effects of alcohol on the liver, understanding the long-term implications of excessive drinking of alcohol will become clearer. It is important that you know what happens when we drink alcohol.
When we drink alcohol, around 20% of it is absorbed by the blood stream, the rest is absorbed by the stomach and the intestine lining. It is then taken to the liver where it is broken down into water, carbon dioxide, and fat. Our liver is capable to handle one pint per hour, so when we binge drink, the liver needs water to breakdown the alcohol. However, alcohol drinking leads to excessive urination in the body. As a result, the water from other parts is diverted to the liver. This causes dehydration. When the liver is absorbing alcohol, it produces a substance known as acetaldehyde which is highly toxic to the liver, stomach, and the brain. This is what causes a hangover.
The long-term effects of drinking alcohol are much worse than a hangover. The effects of drinking takes a toll on how the liver functions. Excessive consumption of alcohol is the root cause of many liver diseases. The fat deposited due to absorption of alcohol leads to fatty liver disease. The only way to deal with this is to give up alcohol completely, and wait for the liver to repair itself.
Over time, excessive consumption of alcohol causes inflammation of the liver as a result of which alcoholic hepatitis occurs. Although this is rare in heavy drinkers, but the mortality rate in this disease is 60%. This disease also affects moderate drinkers, and can progress into cirrhosis or liver failure. Cirrhosis occurs when the cells of the liver get so damaged that they can't repair themselves. Cirrhosis of the liver is the complete shut down of the functions of the liver. The scarred tissue prevents the free flow of blood, which leads to accumulation of wastes and toxins in the body. This poisons the body from the inside. The symptoms of liver cirrhosis are visible only when it progresses to an advanced stage. Usually nothing much can be done for the patient at this stage but treating the symptoms of the disease.
Effects on the Body
When one drinks up to 2 to 3 units of alcohol, the person feels a slight rush and has a happy feeling. The person is more talkative and loses inhibitions. The effect of alcohol is much more severe if one drinks more than, say 5 units. Movement and speech is impaired and the vision becomes blurry. In some cases, excessive drinking leads to black out and memory loss. Another way that alcohol affects the brain is by impairing our judgment. Alcohol abuse leads to many unhappy and broken homes.
Alcohol causes a low blood pressure and low pulse rate in the body. Some of these effects cannot be physically experienced but, the damage is being done inside the body. In any case, most of you will agree that the most painful short-term effect of drinking alcohol is a hangover. It harms the brain by causing serious damage to the brain cells. People who consume large amounts of alcohol are more prone to get mouth cancer. Alcohol affects the lungs, this makes the person more susceptible to catch pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome. Alcohol also increases the risk of a stroke. Alcohol addiction also causes cardiomyopathy. Alcoholism also leads to kidney failure in some cases. It affects sexual health by causing low libido and erectile dysfunction.
Our health is in our hands, so the best we can do is drink in moderation. It is important that we understand that the liver is an important organ without which our body would turn toxic. The effects of alcohol on the liver are serious and can be life-threatening.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.