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General Medical Health Risks From Alcohol

Alcohol consumption has many harmful effects on an individual's medical health.

Alcohol consumption has many harmful effects on an individual’s medical health. In particular, regular or long-term drinking can do much damage to one’s psyche and physiology. However, rapid consumption of a large amount of alcohol is equally dangerous as well. Alcohol is the cause of 88,000 deaths yearly in the United States, and it is one of the leading causes of preventable death in the world.

Alcohol is responsible for short and long-term health risks that range from drunk driving, to violent behavior and miscarriages. Understanding the damage excessive alcohol consumption can cause can help reduce drinking and its disastrous consequences.

Short-Term Medical Health Risks From Alcohol

Aside from a loss of one’s motor skills and slurred speech, those who drink too much can expect a variety of emotions and reactions. Short-term health risks are those that can subside over time. These may not be life threatening but can cause disruptions in everyday life and relationships. Short-term health risks can include:

  • Cuts and bruises from vandalism of property or damaged cars (drunk driving)
  • Exposure to STIs through unprotected sex
  • Scratches and cuts from falling down
  • Stomach aches/nausea
  • Headaches
  • Feeling hungover
  • Diarrhea
  • Irritability
  • Increased alcohol cravings
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Blacking out

These can vary greatly of the amount of alcohol someone has consumed and whether or not other drugs are involved. Factors like drunk driving, vandalism and exposure to STIs would depend on someone’s behavior and environment. Nonetheless, these risky behaviors can cause complex symptoms.

Long-Term Medical Health Risks From Alcohol

Heavy drinking or continued exposure to alcohol effects the body differently; many of the symptoms are highly damaging to the body and mind. Some of the long-term effects can be managed and go away over time; however, some cannot. An example of an irreversible effect of alcohol abuse is brain damage and some birth defects

Continued drinking can create long-term health problems and encourage a tolerance for alcohol. A tolerance is when someone increases requires more alcohol to experience the same effects. Common long-term health risks include but are not limited to:

  • Miscarriages
  • Brain damage
  • Dehydration
  • Osteoporosis
  • Coma
  • High blood pressure
  • Liver disease
  • Withdrawal
  • Kidney damage
  • Ulcers/inflamed stomach lining
  • Mouth/throat cancer
  • Birth defects

For mothers who drink and are expecting, she is putting her baby at risk of developing physical and learning abnormalities. Such conditions are called Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

Hepatitis C, Liver Cirrhosis, And Alcoholism

When someone drinks heavily for a long period of time, they can develop liver cirrhosis and Hepatitis C. These conditions can occur together or separately, and both conditions are diseases of the liver. Hepatitis C can also lead to liver cirrhosis.

According to researchers, “chronic alcohol consumption is responsible for more than 50% of liver deaths.” Individuals who struggle with alcohol use disorders are at an increased chance of liver diseases including Hepatitis C. There is little evidence showing how abstaining from alcohol can reverse the effects on the liver; however, the damage alcohol can have on the liver can be irreversible if in the advanced stages.

The Effects of Alcohol Poisoning

One of the most hazardous consequences of drinking too much is alcohol poisoning. This is caused by drinking large quantities of alcohol in a short amount of time. Essentially, alcohol poisoning is an alcohol overdose. In some cases, alcohol poisoning can cause death, especially if medical help is not provided.

Typically, those experiencing alcohol poisoning can expect to experience the following side effects:

  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Breathing problems
  • Hypothermia (a dip in body temperature)
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Blacking out
  • Pale or bluish skin

Binge drinking, heavy drinking, and drinking on an empty stomach care are all risk factors for alcohol poisoning.

Alcohol poisoning can result in brain damage, atypical heartbeats, choking, dehydration, and death. Symptoms of alcohol  poisoning cannot and should not be treated alone. Contact a medical professional immediately to reverse and assist the symptoms of alcohol poisoning. If your loved one has fallen victim to alcohol poisoning, contact 911 immediately.

Get Help Today

Although alcohol can cause a number of medical health problems, the good news is that they are all preventable if the individual stops drinking before they develop. If you or a loved one needs or wants help stopping alcohol use, the best method is to get a substance abuse evaluation by an addiction professional. Contact a dedicated treatment specialist today for more information.

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