Alcohol has become so ingrained in our social culture that we often forget it is a poison. When you ingest poison it immediately begins to impact your body in ways that can cause serious health problems. Alcohol penetrates every cell in your body and directly affects your brain, heart, liver, pancreas, stomach, kidneys and lungs. At times people disregard the health problems associated with their drinking and blame it on aging or another disease they may have.
Here are some more (you can catch up on part 1 here) health problems associated with alcoholism that you should be aware of:
Hypertension is also known as high blood pressure. Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure to unhealthy levels. Consuming more than three alcoholic beverages temporarily raises blood pressure but continued drinking and alcoholism can lead to permanent hypertension. For those that drink heavily stopping drinking suddenly can cause severe hypertension. Alcohol also contains a lot of calories which can lead to weight gain which is also a high risk factor for hypertension. Alcohol can also interfere with blood pressure medications increasing the side effects and decreasing their effectiveness.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is a condition that occurs from alcohol exposure during pregnancy. The problems caused by fetal alcohol syndrome vary from child to child but the defects caused by fetal alcohol syndrome are irreversible. Problems that are caused by fetal alcohol syndrome are physical deformities, mental retardation, learning disorders, vision problems, and behavioral problems. There is no amount of alcohol that is safe to consume during a pregnancy. If a mother drinks during pregnancy in any amount the baby is at risk of developing fetal alcohol syndrome.
Signs of fetal alcohol syndrome include:
- Distinctive facial features, including small eyes, an exceptionally thin upper lip, a short, upturned nose, and a smooth skin surface between the nose and upper lip
- Deformities of joints, limbs and fingers
- Slow physical growth before and after birth
- Vision difficulties or hearing problems
- Small head circumference and brain size (microcephaly)
- Poor coordination
- Mental retardation and delayed development
- Learning disorders
- Abnormal behavior, such as a short attention span, hyperactivity, poor impulse control, extreme nervousness and anxiety
- Heart defects
The liver is the second largest organ in the body that has many different jobs. The liver’s biggest job is to filter your blood and process what you eat and drink into energy and nutrients your body can use. There are different types of liver diseases that are alcohol-related. There is fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis, and alcoholic cirrhosis.
Fatty liver disease is caused from the buildup of extra fat in liver cells. Fatty liver disease is the earliest stage of any alcohol-related liver disease. In most cases there are no symptoms of fatty liver disease. If there are symptoms they tend to be fatigue, weakness, and weight loss. Nearly all alcoholic drinkers have fatty liver disease but if they stop drinking it tends to go away.
Alcoholic hepatitis causes the liver to swell and become damaged. The symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever and jaundice. Alcoholic hepatitis can range in severity from mild to very severe. If the damage is mild it can be reversed but if it is severe it can lead to serious problems including liver failure or death.
Alcoholic cirrhosis is the scarring of the liver. Hard scar tissue replaces soft tissue in the liver. Alcoholic cirrhosis is the most serious of liver disease. Symptoms of cirrhosis are very similar to alcoholic hepatitis. 10-20% of heavy drinkers develop cirrhosis. Unfortunately alcoholic cirrhosis cannot be reversed and can cause liver failure.
Alcoholism can have a big impact on mental health causing many psychiatric disorders and heightening the risk of suicide. The formation of a depressive disorder is common with alcohol. Not only that but those who drink heavily are at risk of developing alcoholism which in and of itself is a psychiatric problem. Anxiety, depression, ADHD, narcissism, antisocial personality disorder, bulimia, PTSD, schizophrenia, confusion and panic disorders can all develop due to long term misuse of alcohol. Dementia would be one of the most severe and the longer the alcohol abuse the worse it gets.
If your loved one is in need of alcohol detox or treatment for alcoholism please give us a call at 800-951-6135.