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January 13 2021

8 Adverse Effects of Drinking Too Much Alcohol



 
Filipinos love to celebrate by drinking alcoholic beverages during the holidays, on special occasions, and, at times, for no reason at all. This may lead to the habit of excessive drinking, which can also result in a host of health problems if not addressed immediately. But first, people need to know when drinking is considered “too much.”

How Much is Too Much?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is clear about how drinking moderately and excessively is different. One to two drinks daily for women and men, respectively, falls under moderate drinking.

The definition of excessive drinking also differs slightly for men and women. It starts for women after their fourth drink and, for men, after their fifth drink—where a single standard drink is equal to any of the following: a bottle of beer, 8–9 fl oz of malt liquor, a glass of wine, or 1.5 fl oz shot of a hard drink like gin, rum, vodka, or whiskey.

According to the CDC, alcohol consumption beyond these numbers twice per week is already considered heavy drinking. CDC likewise mentions that people younger than 21, pregnant women, and those taking maintenance or prescription medicines should abstain from drinking.

8 Adverse Effects of Drinking Too Much Alcohol

It is a sad truth that, often, people only realize how damaging alcohol is to their health once they develop these medical conditions.
 

1. Liver damage

Liver cirrhosis, a kind of alcoholic liver disease (ALD), is one of the most common causes of the untimely demise of those suffering from alcoholism. Cirrhosis-related deaths all over the world number to about 1 million every year.

 
The two other types of ALD are alcoholic fatty liver and alcoholic hepatitis. ALD causes inflammation of the liver and gastrointestinal bleeding in the late stages of cirrhosis. People with cirrhosis who stop drinking a month after diagnosis have a seven (7)-year survival rate of 72%.
 

2. Pancreatitis

This disease refers to the inflammation of the pancreatic organ, which produces juices or enzymes that help in the digestion process. In Asian countries like the Philippines, it has been discovered that a large number of people lack the enzyme for breaking down alcohol.

 
The pancreas also balances the amount of sugar in the blood. If the pancreas is always in a bad state due to daily heavy alcohol use, the risk for type II diabetes increases.
 

3. Sexual and reproductive dysfunction

Some may think that being drunk will help lengthen their “staying power,” while others may feel that it removes their inhibitions for more fun under the sheets. On the contrary, drinking too much alcohol can cause erectile dysfunction or impotence among men and pregnancy-related problems in women.

 

4. Weakening of the immune system

Consuming excessive levels of alcohol makes a person’s immune system unable to fight viruses and bad bacteria that try to invade the body. When this happens, key organs become vulnerable to infection and other complications.
 
A prolonged weakening of the immune system can lead to a higher risk of pneumonia and tuberculosis, among other infectious diseases, as well as various types of cancer.
 

5. Short-term effects

After drinking too much alcohol, slurred speech instantly takes place, affecting the way a person’s body and brain communicate with one another. This slow reaction time then results in poor coordination, which is why drunk driving is not advisable.

 
Drunk driving is said to cost the life of one person every 50 minutes in road accidents as the driver may find it hard to concentrate or react to situations quickly or properly.
 

6. Blackouts

Having had too much to drink and not remembering anything the morning after is what describes a blackout. It is a temporary loss of memory due to the rapid increase in alcohol content in the blood. While a blackout may not seem to be a serious effect, the dark side is that it can lead to permanent memory loss.
 

7. Brain shrinkage

Chronic alcohol drinkers have reduced brain volume, as shown by MRI scans. The most affected parts are the nerve fibers and dendrites, causing the different brain regions to have difficulty communicating with one another.
 
As a result, the brain may be unable to perform complex mental functions like problem-solving, decision making, or assessing risk and danger within the environment.
 

8. Dependency

One of the harmful effects of drinking too much alcohol is that people may become heavily dependent on it, and the consequences can be alarming. For one, alcohol dependence may impair the ability to carry intimate and healthy human relationships, with many leading to family problems.
 
Employment issues also crop up among heavy alcohol drinkers as they fail to deliver what is expected of them at work. Absenteeism, decreased productivity, and inferior quality of work—all of these may cause the concerned employees to lose their job or the company to be less profitable.
 

Cut Back on Alcohol Consumption for a Healthier Lifestyle

These conditions are the direct result of failing to drink in moderation. Some of these effects are short-term, while others are more life-threatening. Perhaps a good reminder is that happiness need not come from excessive or heavy alcohol binging but from having a healthy lifestyle.

Should you have health concerns related to liver disease, please reach out to Makati Medical Center. MakatiMed doctors will help you address your alcohol-related health problems in a professional and caring manner.