How alcohol affects your health.
Since April is Alcohol Awareness Month, Community Clinic is raising awareness about the effects of alcohol on our health.
Many people don’t realize that occasional beer or cocktail can have a major impact on their physical and mental well-being. Used by millions of people in the United States regularly, alcohol is one of this country’s most consumed substances. However, when used in excess, alcohol can lead to injuries and death. But what about many of the unintended consequences of consuming alcohol? Here are some of the ways alcohol affects your health.
Alcohol and your heart
If you are a daily or prolonged drinker, alcohol severely impacts your circulatory system, even if you are drinking moderately. Some of the potential issues you can have include:
- High blood pressure
- Cardiomyopathy – drooping or stretching of the heart muscle
- Arrhythmias – irregular heartbeat
Alcohol and the liver
Most people understand that heavy drinking is going to affect the liver, leading to various inflammations and problems, including:
- Alcoholic hepatitis
- Steatosis (fatty liver)
Alcohol and the pancreas
Alcohol consumption can cause your body’s pancreas to produce toxic substances that lead to a condition called pancreatitis. This is a dangerous swelling and inflammation of the blood vessels in your pancreas that can prevent proper digestion.
Alcohol and cancer
Drinking too much has been linked to various types of cancer, including cancer of the:
Alcohol use and your brain
Alcohol interferes with the communication pathways in the brain. It can impact the way the brain works and even its structure. These disruptions can change a person’s behavior and mood. Some of the conditions linked to excessive alcohol consumption include:
- Wernicke-Korsakoffe Syndrome (wet brain)
Alcohol is often used as a coping mechanism for underlying conditions, such as depression or bipolar disorder. But it is not an effective treatment for these conditions and can make them worse over time.
Alcohol use and your immune system
The overconsumption of alcohol can also lead to a weakened immune system. For example, problem drinkers are more likely to contract diseases like tuberculosis and pneumonia than people who don’t over imbibe. Even a single episode of drinking too much can limit your body’s ability to ward off an infection.
When to get help
Whether consuming too much alcohol in a single sitting or over time, these actions can significantly impact your health. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans don’t recommend any level of alcohol consumption.
If alcohol is impacting your life negatively in any way, it’s time to think about getting help. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has a questionnaire to help you figure out if you have an alcohol use disorder.
Community Clinic cares about preventative healthcare and provides expanded primary care services that encompass the whole person, including information you need to live a healthier, more active life.
If you’re concerned about your alcohol use, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for help. We’re here to support you!
Community Clinic is committed to providing high-quality medical service to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay in each of our 16 clinics across Northwest Arkansas.