Alcohol’s Effects to Our Body
Alcohol has been used for socializing and relaxing from a long time ago. Alcohol power to body is different for each individual. Some people can hold much liquor without he/she gets drunk. While other people are easily getting drunk only by one drop of liquor. Until now scientists still do not know how much exactly the alcohol power since the effects are vary for each individuals. What they do know is that there are several factors which influence to the amount of effects on individuals’ body. Those factors are how much liquor individual drinks, how often he/she drinks, how old is he/she, what health status of him/her and his/her family history of alcohol abuse. If individual consumes alcohol for a long-time or what we call addicted to alcohol, his/her body would get several effects that could be dangerous. What are the effects of alcohol on the brain, lungs and heart? We will know shortly.
The moment you drink liquor; alcohol will go directly to your brain through bloodstream. The frontal lobe of your brain is the first part of your brain which get the effect of alcohol. Alcohol will affect the brain to lift the mood and even more if you drink in a group. Because of the increased positive mood, you are likely getting more drink and your brain will eventually become numb from the sedative effect of alcohol. Once your brain becomes numb, your judgment will be impaired. It makes you do something that you’ll regret it later like unprotected sex or fighting.
Most people have assumption that being drunk is counted by how many glass, bottle or can they drink. It is wrong assumption. The amount of glass, bottle or can individual drinks does not match up with the amount of alcohol running in his/her blood. Each types of liquor have different amount of alcohol content. For example, one can of regular beer (12 ounces’ beer) consists about 5% alcohol content, 8-9 ounces of malt liquor consists about 7% alcohol, 5 ounces of table wine consists about 12% alcohol and 1.5 ounces shot of distilled spirit (gin, rum, vodka, whiskey, etc.) consists about 40% alcohol. Drinking levels is counted by how much drink individuals take in one day whether they are drunk or not.
- Moderate drinking, for women up to 1 drink per day and for men up to 2 drinks per day.
- Binge drinking, for women take more than 4 drinks and for men more than 5 drinks on the same occasion in one day in the past 30 days. Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) will show result to 0.08 g/dl.
- Heavy drinking, individuals take more than 5 drinks on the same occasion in 5 or more consecutive days in the past 30 days.
What are the effects of alcohol on the brain, lungs and heart?
When you consume alcohol, it will travel into your digestive system then, like nutrition from the foods, bloodstream will bring alcohol into other organs through cardiovascular system. All organs in your body will absorb the alcohol. That is why these effects might occur inside your body.
High alcohol content can irritate the sensitive membrane inside the mouth. Alcohol beverages are considered as carcinogenic to humans. That is why heavy drinkers are having higher risk of mouth and throat cancer.
When you consume liquor, 20% of alcohol content will seep into bloodstream through stomach while the rest of 80% will seep into bloodstream through small intestines. Consuming alcohol in empty stomach makes alcohol absorbed directly into bloodstream while consuming alcohol in full stomach especially full of high protein foods makes alcohol absorbed much slower into bloodstream. The flow of stomach juice will increase because of alcohol. That is why small amount of alcohol is good to stimulate the appetite. However, if you consume alcohol excessively especially high alcohol content, the increasing flow of juice will irritate the stomach and cause ulcer. More alcohol and more flow of stomach juice, your body will compensate the increasing irritation inside your stomach by vomiting.
Alcohol which seeps into bloodstream causes blood vessels widen makes the blood pressure drops, blushing because of the increased blood flow in the skin surface and temporary increased body temperature.
Brain is the part of your body which controls body’s function and behavior. Alcohol intake can cause the communication pathways from brain disrupted and change in body’s function and behavior. BAC levels are responsible to how much changes in behavior and body’s function. Blackout and memory lapses often happened when brain is affected by heavy drinking and blackout is more common in social drinking. When long-term heavy drinker’s brain tested by an advanced technology, it showed the results that the brain is shrinking and brain’s fiber (white matter) which carry information from one brain cell to another is decreasing. It caused memory and attention impaired. Heavy drinkers also have higher risk of ischemic stroke.
Brain disorder like Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS) can happen to alcoholic when their body lack of thiamine (vitamin B1). The syndrome is separated into two syndromes. The first one is Wernicke’s encephalopathy that is short-lived but severe. The main three symptoms of Wernicke’s encephalopathy are mental confusion, nerve paralysis which moves the eyes and decreasing ability of muscle coordination. For example, the individuals may be too confused to know their own name and cannot walk straight in one line. The second syndrome is Korsakoff’s psychosis that is long-lasting and weakness condition. Individuals with Korsakoff’s psychosis have impaired memory that makes them forgetful. They also have decreasing ability of muscle coordination that makes them difficult to walk and coordinate.
The impact of alcohol abuse to the lungs is the increased risk of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). It is serious and life-threatening disease. The lungs’ function to exchange oxygen and carbon-dioxide is impaired and as the result our body will starve with oxygen. It can cause sudden death. While in chronic conditions, alcohol abuse can cause pulmonary condition like emphysema, bronchiectasis and airway obstruction like asthma.
Heavy drinkers who take more than 6 drinks per day have higher risk of coronary heart disease. Heavy drinking also causes deterioration of heart muscle function which can lead to congestive heart failure.
Reading those effects hopefully is enough to convince you that consuming alcohol excessively is not good for your health. If you still interesting to the question of what are the effects of alcohol in brain, lungs and heart and want to know more extensive information, you can ask to rehabilitation center in the local area or ask your doctor.