From alcoholic hepatitis to liver cancer, the health risks associated with alcoholism are quite serious. Alcohol addiction damages your body, sometimes irreversibly, while also wreaking havoc on your relationships, finances and life in general. The sooner you quit drinking alcohol, the sooner you will reap the benefits of a healthier way of living.
Do you need a little extra motivation to begin your recovery journey? Even if you feel healthy now, soon the effects of alcohol abuse on your body will be impossible to ignore. Here are just some of the health risks caused by alcoholism.
Alcoholic hepatitis refers to an inflammation of liver tissues due to alcohol consumption. The only way to prevent and treat alcoholic hepatitis is to stop drinking altogether. Failing to do so can lead to even more liver damage, including cirrhosis, fibrosis, fatty liver disease, liver failure and even liver cancer. Consider alcoholic hepatitis a serious warning sign of what is to come if you do not stop drinking.
Chronic alcoholism, especially binge drinking, can increase your blood pressure, which can lead to a host of other issues if left unchecked. Stroke, heart attack, an irregular heart beat and cardiomyopathy (stretched heart muscles) are some of the severe complications that can arise from the blood pressure spikes related to binge drinking.
Alcoholism significantly increases the risk of developing certain cancers. Studies have shown a clear correlation between alcohol consumption and seven cancers in particular, affecting the liver, esophagus, breast, colon, rectum, oropharynx and larynx.
Immune System Complications
Alcohol is inherently toxic. Your body has to work hard to remove alcohol from your blood stream, and this can compromise your immune system. While your body is busy addressing the toxins you have introduced through your drinking, it’s easier for other pathogens to take hold. For example, alcoholics are prone to developing tuberculosis and pneumonia more than non-alcoholics.
Other Health Risks Associated With Alcoholism
Alcoholics may struggle to maintain a healthy weight. It can swing both ways: alcoholism can cause individuals to be overweight or underweight. Both conditions bring a new set of challenges, such as a risk for diabetes if overweight and malnutrition problems if underweight.
The liver is responsible for processing alcohol, but the kidneys and pancreas play supporting roles as well. Pancreatitis is just as much a possibility as alcoholic hepatitis, and kidney failure is another health risk associated with alcoholism.
Finally, the behavioral health risks must not be forgotten. Lack of coordination, loss of inhibitions and increased mood swings can occur immediately after alcohol consumption, and with potentially fatal consequences, including car accidents, physical altercations and risky behaviors.
In short, alcohol affects the entire body. Now is the time to quit and to begin to heal.
Alcohol’s Effects on the Body – National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Alcoholic Hepatitis – Mayo Clinic