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The Effects of Alcohol on Your Body

Drinking too much alcohol, either in one sitting or over time, takes a toll on your body. Alcohol is a toxic poison that kills cells, which is why people use alcohol to preserve food and sterilize equipment. Alcohol also harms human body cells and organs.

The Negative Effects of Alcohol on Various Organs

Brain: Alcohol interferes with communication pathways in the brain. Disruptions in communication affect the way the brain works, potentially changing mood, behavior, ability to think clearly, and the way your body moves.

Heart: Regular alcohol use can damage the heart, causing stretching and drooping of heart muscles, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, and even stroke.

Other Organs: The National Institutes of Health says that drinking too much alcohol increases the risk of certain cancers, such as cancer of the mouth, esophagus and throat, breast, and liver. Drinking alcohol excessively can also weaken the immune system, making drinkers more susceptible to infectious diseases such as pneumonia and tuberculosis.

Pancreas: The presence of alcohol in the body causes the pancreas to produce toxic substances that can eventually lead to dangerous swelling of blood vessels in the pancreas, a serious condition known as pancreatitis. This condition prevents proper digestion.

Liver: Your liver breaks down alcohol into smaller components that the body can easily eliminate. Drinking alcohol takes a heavy toll on your liver and can lead to the development of serious health problems, such as fatty liver disease (steatosis), alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and fibrosis. Cirrhosis is the result of scarring of the liver, which occurs as a response to injury of the liver. Fibrosis is the first stage of scarring, and is an early form of cirrhosis.

Kidneys: Regular alcohol consumption can be hard on your kidneys, too. The kidneys filter toxins and other harmful substances from the body. They also regulate the amount of water in the body and help to maintain a healthy blood pressure. Alcohol can affect kidney function in a way that makes it harder for the kidneys to do these jobs.

The National Kidney Foundation considers heavy drinking to be more than three drinks in a day for women and more than four drinks daily for men. Heavy drinking causes the kidneys to work harder, and it doubles the risk for kidney disease. Binge drinking, which is consuming more than four to five drinks within two hours, can cause a sudden drop in kidney function, a serious medical emergency known as acute kidney injury.

For more information on the effects of alcohol on your liver, kidneys, and other organs, talk to your doctor or another healthcare professional. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at 770.730.0119 today to make an appointment with Virtual Imaging.