Health problems associated with heavy drinking

Alcohol abuse can be associated with major health problems and increased risk for certain diseases. Most people believe that declining liver health and increased likelihood to get in an automobile accident are the only types of dangers increased by excessive alcohol consumption. However, beyond these two well-know examples, there are dozens of other health-related issues associated with drinking heavily. Below we cover ten major health conditions that are associated with a high consumption of alcohol.

a man holding a bottle of alcohol1. Increases Cancer Risk

Scientists believe the increased risk of cancer occurs  when the body converts the alcohol into acetaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen. Being exposed to increased amounts of carcinogens increases your cancer risk. Cancer induced by heavy drinking usually shows up as:
  • mouth
  • liver
  • breast
  • and esophagus cancer

2. Cardiovascular Disease

Heavy drinking causes blood platelets to clump together into blood clots, which increases your chances of heart attack or even stroke. Heavy drinking can also cause a condition known as cardiomyopathy, which causes the heart muscle to weaken and eventual fail. A study published by Harvard researchers in 2005, suggests that binge drinking can double the risk of death from those who previously survived a heart attack.

3. Cirrhosis of the Liver

A lot of heavy drinkers will eventually develop cirrhosis of the liver, however, it’s hard to predict which drinkers will develop the condition. Alcohol is toxic to the liver cells, and cirrhosis means the liver becomes so scarred from drinking that it can barely function.

4. Dementia and Declining Mental Function

Brain loss occurs naturally as we age. However, drinking speeds up the process of brain loss, especially in the regions associated with memory. This can increase your chances of dementia, even at a younger age. Heavy drinking also impairs regular cognitive functioning and reduces your ability to solve problems, and make good judgements, which can lead to unfortunate and preventable injuries.

5. Depression 

In some cases, heavy drinking and depression can be linked. A lot of people choose to self-medicate with alcohol when they’re depressed, which can worsen their existing symptoms. While recent studies suggest that heavy alcohol consumption can actually cause depression. Regardless of what comes first, depression has been shown to improve once alcohol consumption is decreased.

6. Aggravates Existing Gout Condition

Gout is caused when very painful uric acid crystals form within the joints, making movement very difficult and painful. Gout is mostly hereditary, but excessive alcohol consumption can lead to aggravating an existing condition.

7. Can Trigger Seizures

Heavy drinking can actually trigger seizures and cause epilepsy in people who don’t have this condition to begin with. If you’re a person who already suffers from seizures, then heavy drinking will only interfere with your medication and exacerbate the condition.

8. High-Blood Pressure

The nervous system can become damaged with heavy drinking. Since the nervous system regulates the dilation and constriction of blood vessels, heavy drinking will cause your blood pressure to rise. Prolonged heavy drinking will lead to high blood pressure. High blood pressure raises your risk for disease and a host of other health problems.

9. Nerve Damage

Heavy drinking can cause alcoholic neuropathy, which is a certain kind of nerve damage. This gives you a very painful pins-and-needles type of feeling and can also lead to:
  • muscle weakness
  • constipation
  • erectile dysfunction
  • and numbness of limbs

10. Can Cause Anemia

Anemia occurs when the oxygen carrying red blood cells drop to a very low level. Heavy drinking can cause this condition to arise. Anemia can cause a lot of other symptoms and health problems to arise, including: fatigue, general lightheadedness, and shortness of breath. Heavy alcohol consumption can exacerbate existing health conditions, and even create new health complications. The sooner you bring awareness to your existing relationship with alcohol, the sooner you can begin to restore your health and avoid long-term health damage. In fact, a recent lifetime study done by Harvard, suggests that excessive alcohol consumption is one of the main detriments to a long and happy life. If you or a loved one has been suffering from any of the above symptoms from heavy alcohol use it’s important to seek treatment for alcohol abuse and addiction as soon as possible. The earlier you get help the more likely you can reverse or stop symptoms from spreading any further.  The professionals at the Recovery Village specialized in drug and alcohol detox and addiction treatment. Call us today.
  Sources: “Alcohol’s Effects on the Body.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Web. 14 Jan. 2016. <https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/alcohols-effects-body> “Health Consequences of Drinking.” AlcoholScreening.org. Join Together. Web. 14 Jan. 2016. <https://www.alcoholscreening.org/Learn-More.aspx?topicID=8&articleID=26> Photo courtesy of StockyPics, under Creative Commons License.
Health Problems Associated with Heavy Drinking
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