Alcohol is often considered as an escape from people’s problems, but it actually causes more trouble than good. In fact, medical experts have linked alcohol consumption and abuse to over 60 diseases, including some ailments that aren’t usually considered to be caused by chronic heavy drinking.
Because of this, specialists at the Kaiser Wellness Center led by its director, Dr. Maher Soudah, decided to explain the dangers of alcohol addiction to several vital organs in the body to help both casual and heavy drinkers make a wise choice whenever someone invites them for a drink.
Among all the vital organs affected by alcohol consumption, the liver is
probably the most popular. Unfortunately, the fame didn’t come from a positive source as statistics shown that many people who were diagnosed with liver diseases are heavy drinkers or alcohol addicts. Some of these diseases are alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, cirrhosis, and steatosis or fatty liver.
The liver is arguably the organ that has it worst when a person is addicted to alcohol because it is the one in charge of sifting through and eliminates toxins that enter the body. After taking in too many toxins from this substance, the liver turns cirrhotic, which is a point when the organ’s tissues become a fibrous mass of scar tissue that can no longer filter the blood.
Heart and Blood
Cardiovascular diseases are common among heavy drinkers because it paves the way for platelets to cluster together and form blood clots that may cause a stroke or heart attack. On top of that, heavy drinkers are seen to be at a high risk of acquiring cardiomyopathy, a condition that eventually leads to heart failure.
Atrial fibrillation (AF) and ventricular fibrillation (VF)— conditions signified by abnormal heart rhythm— have also been linked to excessive alcohol consumption. These ailments are considered fatal as it can lead to heart failure, especially when the chaotic twitching of the heart muscles remain untreated for an extended period.
Heavy drinking may also lead to anemia, a condition signified by abnormally low red blood cells, which can trigger symptoms like shortness of breath, light-headedness, and fatigue. Hypertension is also common among binge drinkers.
Among the diseases caused by excessive alcohol drinking is pancreatitis, or the inflammation of the pancreas. With this condition, the pancreas, which produces insulin and other digestive enzymes, become inflamed and fails to function properly, causing a series of problems with the digestive process. Acute pancreatitis can be treated with medication and a change in lifestyle (removal of alcohol), but chronic pancreatitis proves to be more difficult to deal with and is deemed life-threatening.
Another vital organ that can be damaged by excessive alcohol drinking is the kidneys. When a person consumes alcohol, the balance of water and minerals in the body is thrown off, causing an array of conditions like a severe decrease in their blood sugar, seizures, and signs of dehydration. Also, hypertension caused by heavy drinking may also cause severe damage to the kidney’s tissues, which experts consider as the leading cause of kidney failure.
Brain and Nerves
Unlike the other parts of the body mentioned earlier, most people are unaware that alcohol consumption can also affect the nervous system in the long-run.
Aside from the temporary mood changes and slowed coordination, heavy drinkers are also at risk for a form of nerve damage called alcoholic neuropathy. This condition is characterized by the emergence of painful pins-and-needles or numbness in the limbs as well as incontinence, erectile dysfunction, constipation, and muscle weakness among other things.
As for the brain, alcohol can interfere with the brain’s communication pathways, thereby changing how the organ looks and works. It also causes brain atrophy, lack of response to emotional or environmental stimuli, depression, fatigue, and ataxia (difficulty keeping one’s balance).