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Can't imagine your evening without a drink, beer or wine? Well, you'd better read what might happen to you. It is harmful to he alth not only getting drunk, but also drinking alcohol regularly. Both forms of alcohol abuse can cause diseases of the body (somatic) and soul (mental). Check what diseases can appear under the influence of drinking alcohol.

We reach for alcohol when we are sad and when we have reason to be happy. Any occasion is good to get a drink. Unfortunately, such practices can end badly because alcohol has a negative effect on the entire body. It attacks all internal organ systems. It is an effective killer that secretly attacks the stomach, intestines, heart, pancreas, kidneys and the brain.

Alcohol-related liver disease

  • Alcoholic liver disease is caused by the toxic effects of substances generated during the metabolism of ethyl alcohol and oxidative stress on liver cells, i.e. hepatocytes.
  • Alcoholic fatty liver disease is the first stage of this disease. It is usually asymptomatic, and stopping drinking leads to the regeneration of liver cells.
  • Hepatitis develops when alcohol is not stopped. It is accompanied by a feeling of chronic fatigue, pain under the ribs on the right side, nausea and vomiting. Another symptom may be ascites, which is an excessive accumulation of fluid in the abdomen. The circumference of the abdomen may expand unnaturally. Jaundice can also happen.
  • Cirrhosis of the liver is the end stage of alcoholic liver disease that leads to extreme organ failure, a life-threatening condition. Peritonitis, renal failure, and gastrointestinal bleeding may develop with liver failure. In cirrhosis of the liver, its cells are replaced with connective tissue that is useless in the detoxification process, which further impedes the blood flow through the organ. Cancer can be a consequence of cirrhosis of the liver.

90-100% of alcohol abusers develop fatty liver. In 10-35% of the organ, alcoholic inflammation occurs. Alcoholic cirrhosis develops in 10-20% of heavy drinkers.

Diseases of the pancreas caused by alcohol

Chronic pancreatitis most often has its roots inalcohol abuse, but it can also be caused by gallstones. The inflammatory process that takes place in the pancreas leads to irreversible changes in the organ's parenchyma. The last stage of this process is pancreatic insufficiency.

Chronic pancreatitis is manifested by pain in the upper abdomen that radiates to the back. It usually appears after a meal or alcohol consumption and lasts for hours or even days. Flatulence, sometimes vomiting and diarrhea are also troublesome.

When the disease develops, absorption disorders also appear, which adversely affects the nutrition of the entire body. Pancreatic damage will affect the ability to secrete insulin, and hence the straight path to diabetes.

With the consumption of 100-150 g of pure alcohol per day, clinical symptoms of chronic pancreatitis occur after about 15 years in men and after 10 years in women.

Diseases of the intestines and stomach caused by alcohol

In short, alcohol destroys the entire digestive tract.

  • Gastritis is most often caused by the action of toxic metabolites of ethanol. The symptom of the disease is usually epigastric pain. Gastrointestinal bleeding may also occur.
  • Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease often coexists with alcohol abuse. This is because alcohol lowers the tone of the lower esophageal sphincter.
  • Alcohol interferes with the proper secretion of stomach acid. Ingested alcohol is absorbed unchanged in the stomach and small intestine, which can cause serious inflammation.
Can alcohol cause cancer?

According to estimates, there is a link between excessive drinking of alcohol and certain types of cancer. 2 to 4% of all cancers are directly or indirectly related to this group of diseases.

Alcohol abuse may be the cause of:

  • esophageal cancer
  • throat cancer
  • oral cancer
  • liver cancer
  • colorectal cancer

In the last two cases, experts are divisible. Opponents of drinking emphasize that even drinking 0.5 liters of beer or a glass of wine per day increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 10%.

Alcohol-related nervous system diseases

Being lighthearted can be considered pleasant, but is it really so? By drinking alcohol, we put a lot of strain on the nervous system and the brain. Alcohol metabolites are the most harmful.

  • The fact that we have enough is evidenced not only by movement disorders and speech disorders, but also by the so-called drooping hand, that is, the effectalcohol paralysis of the radial nerve. Similar paralysis may affect the hand and wrist nerves. This is why, when we abuse alcohol, we cannot, for example, accurately pour liquid into a glass.
  • Disturbed vision after alcohol is also a neurological reaction.
  • Alcoholic polyneuropathy is a group of symptoms affecting the nervous system, developing under the influence of prolonged exposure to alcohol on nerve fibers. Disrupted absorption of nutrients causes a deficiency of B vitamins, which are responsible for the efficient functioning of the nervous system. The symptoms of polyneuropathy are sensory disturbances, tingling sensation, numbness, pain in the limbs, paresis and painful calf cramps.

Alcohol-related mental disorders

  • Alcohol dependence is a condition that manifests itself in a loss of control over the amount of alcohol you drink and a strong craving to drink, also known as the need to drink or the compulsion to drink. The patient strives to consume more and more alcohol and focuses his actions around this. When she quits drinking, she struggles with withdrawal symptoms.
  • Alcoholic paranoia (Othello's alcohol syndrome) is a chronic psychosis, i.e. a condition in which the perception of reality is disturbed. Paranoia affects people with years of alcohol abuse. They are suspicious of their partner's fidelity, and sometimes also aggressive.
  • Alcoholic depression is very often a consequence of alcohol addiction. A person affected by this form of depression has problems with sleep, they experience fear and anxiety without justification, which can lead to conflicts in the family and conflicts with the law.
  • Alcoholic dementia is manifested by a progressive decline in intellectual performance. The patient not only has problems with memory, but also often does not understand what is happening around him. This is sometimes the cause of conflicts, but also dependence. With alcoholic dementia, degenerative changes occur in the brain, which are identical to those in the brains of seniors.
  • Korsakoff's syndrome is the most serious brain damage caused by alcohol abuse. It consists in the inability to remember new events, assimilate new information or acquire new skills.

Cardiovascular diseases and alcohol

  • Hypertension is a common consequence of alcohol abuse, as it contributes to the constriction of blood vessels. Stopping drinking may partially reverse the situation, but you should be aware that this is not always possible.
  • Cardiomyopathy is a group of changes that occur under the influence of alcoholoccur in the heart and consist in the enlargement of the heart muscle, its fatness and weakening of contractions. Changes in the course of cardiomyopathy are irreversible, require difficult treatment, and in many cases the only way to save life is through a heart transplant.
  • Coronary artery disease can also develop with excessive alcohol consumption. It may result in a heart attack.
  • Changes that occur in blood vessels under the influence of alcohol increase the risk of stroke.
  • Excessive drinking also leads to increased heart rate and arrhythmias.

Other alcohol-related medical conditions

Alcohol can cause impotence, in part because it damages blood vessels. Another problem with alcohol abusers may be anemia, which results from insufficient absorption of vitamins and minerals.

Menstrual disorders and acne problems are common in women who drink excessively. It is better not to talk about the harmfulness of drinking alcohol by pregnant women. Alcohol can cause miscarriage, premature birth and even damage your unborn baby.

Alcohol, like all things, is harmful in excess. This does not mean, however, that it must be avoided like the devil of holy water. In reasonable doses it is for people. In excess, it can be very harmful. Well, it's a good idea to exercise moderation.

About the authorAnna Jarosz A journalist who has been involved in popularizing he alth education for over 40 years. Winner of many competitions for journalists dealing with medicine and he alth. She received, among others The "Golden OTIS" Trust Award in the "Media and He alth" category, St. Kamil awarded on the occasion of the World Day of the Sick, twice the "Crystal Pen" in the national competition for journalists promoting he alth, and many awards and distinctions in competitions for the "Medical Journalist of the Year" organized by the Polish Association of Journalists for He alth.

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