All of you have certainly heard of, and most of you have probably experienced, some side effects of alcohol intake. Excess alcohol consumption results in short-term and long-term side effects, which can range from mild to very severe. The worst outcome is of course death, which can occur due to acute intoxication (alcohol concentration in blood around 4 ‰), or due to some vital organ dysfunction caused by chronic alcohol abuse (liver cirrhosis, heart attack, stroke, etc.). There are also some unusual side effects of alcohol intake reported by a certain number of persons, which will also be explained in this article.
Short-Term Side Effects Of Excess Alcohol Intake
Alcoholic beverages are very commonly consumed on many occasions. They contain ethanol (ethyl-alcohol) in variable concentrations, from 5% in most types of beer up to 40% in some spirits. In lower concentrations, alcohol produces stimulative effects on the central nervous system, such as euphoria, social inhibition, and an increased energy level. However, after excess intake, the signs of acute alcohol poisoning appear, such as slurred speech, headache, nausea and vomiting, impaired judgment, poor coordination, blurred vision, and blackouts. All these side effects are temporary and they subside gradually as the alcohol is being eliminated from the body. However, severe acute intoxication can lead to coma and death due to suppression of the respiratory center in the brain. There are also cases of irreversible liver failure due to acute alcohol intoxication.
Besides these direct physiological effects, changed behavior due to alcohol abuse increases the incidence of injuries, car accidents, and fights, in which other people in the environment are also affected.
Long-Term Side Effects Of Excess Alcohol Intake
Although one glass of wine per day may produce beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system, any amount higher than that has been proven to damage your health. Taking alcohol in higher doses on a daily basis can affect almost all organ systems. Liver damage is the most pronounced problem in alcoholics, as the liver is responsible for the elimination of alcohol from our body. Alcohol-induced fatty liver disease is the first step, which is followed by fibrosis and eventually liver cirrhosis, which is a progressive, irreversible, and deadly condition. A liver transplant is the only solution to this problem, but there is a huge debate whether alcoholics deserve a liver transplant. Since many scientists today consider alcoholism to be a complex psychiatric disorder, there is a growing opinion that they should actually be allowed to get a new liver.
Alcohol also has a huge impact on the brain and the whole nervous system. It changes the way the neurotransmitters normally conduct impulses and induces strong withdrawal symptoms. Therefore, an alcoholic person should never quit alcohol on their own, but only according to established rehab protocols.
Chronic alcohol abuse produces damage to the cardiovascular system as well as to the endocrine system, thus leading to atherosclerosis, increased blood pressure, and even heart attack.
Unusual Side Effects Of Alcohol Intake
There are many cases of reporting some unusual side effects, even after mild or moderate alcohol intake. This can happen to anyone, but scientists have noticed that particularly members of the Asian population have a susceptibility to react stronger than usual to alcoholic beverages. This phenomenon is caused by lower activity of the enzyme called acetaldehyde dehydrogenase among these people, which makes them intolerant even in small concentrations of alcohol. One of the distinct signs in Asian people who are particularly intolerant to alcohol is the so-called “alcohol flush reaction”, which includes facial flushing, an increased heart rate, and nausea.
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