Contributed by- Dr. Pooja Chaudhary
Alcohol is the anaesthesia by which we endure the operation of life!
– George Bernard Shaw
“Do you drink?”
Have we all not been a part of this conversation at some point in our life? Enjoying a drink or two has become a norm these days. Something which was earlier restricted to the male gender; it is now not uncommon to see both genders enjoying their drink. With the growing pub culture and the hundreds of brands to choose from, people today definitely know what and how to drink. One can pick from vodka, beer, single malt, rum and interesting cocktails. Alcohol has been glamourised and glorified as a means of having fun which makes it really popular. Do we all not look forward to the weekend parties to offload all work pressure? Relaxation, fun and a sound sleep is often associated with your favourite drink.
But when relaxation turns to addiction, the picture turns dark for some.
Alcohol provides a temporary boost of confidence and causes numbness on a person’s realities and burdens of life. But one has to realise that these feelings are only temporary and can effect our lives in a lot of ways. It is capable of affecting our physical and mental health. Long-term effects caused by alcohol on the body and the mind are significant and sometimes can cause permanent damage.
Although drinking alcohol in moderation is not bad but one needs to know when to stop. Here is an insight into what alcohol does to your body in short and long term both.
Effect of alcohol on the body can vary according to a lot a factors, these include:
- User’s tolerance limit
- How quickly they have consumed the drinks
- How much they have drank
- Whether they have other medications in your system that could interact with alcohol
- Their body size
Short term effects of alcohol
If someone drinks alcohol at a faster rate than their body can metabolize, they could start experiencing intoxication. This can result in depression or slowing of brain activity and could possibly result in behavioural changes.
The most common term short-effects of alcohol on the human body are:
- Mood changes and enhancement
- Poor concentration
- Slow reaction time
- Altered speech
- Feeling of being relaxed
- Impaired vision
- Decreased inhibitions
- Coordination problems
- Hazy thinking
Usually there is no significant short term effect of alcohol on the liver. It will not have any effect on the functioning of liver only if it is limited to 1 standard drink or less per hour (although most of us do not follow this). But anything beyond this limit of consumption will start showing its affect on the liver.
Binge drinking is having too many drinks. It is demarcated as four drinks or more when taken in approximately two hours for a woman and five drinks or more in the same time period for a man. This pattern of drinking mostly raises a person’s blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 or higher. Long term effects of binge drinking can be detrimental to the person’s health.
Long term effects of alcohol on the body
A habitual drinker or a person who drinks alcohol particularly in large quantities for a long period of time can have a lot of negative effects on their body and mind. It takes a toll on the person’s heart, brain and liver. Alcohol (beer, wine, whiskey and all other kinds of liquor) is a central nervous system depressant and affects all organs in the body, specifically the liver and brain.
Alcohol addiction is one of the major social problems. It has destroyed many lives and families. Problem drinkers often indulge in domestic violence. Quitting alcohol for them is the biggest challenge. What is worrisome is that the long-term effects of alcohol continue even after a person has stopped drinking, especially if they had been drinking in excess for a prolonged period of time. These effects include:
- Black out (when drinker does not remember what happened while he or she was drinking)
- Loss of memory
- Effects the brain; drinking alcohol for a prolonged period of time can disrupt the neuronal pathways and ultimately harm the brain
- Alcohol dependency or addiction
- Alcohol addiction can lead to cardiomyopathy and kidney failure in some cases
- Liver diseases (Alcoholic fatty liver)
How long does alcohol stay in the body?
Usually, the liver takes 1 hour to metabolize 1 ounce (30 ml approx) of alcohol. The average person’s blood alcohol level from a single ounce of alcohol will rise to 0.015. So, about every hour that much alcohol will pass out of the person’s body. But how long alcohol stays in our body depends upon:
- How fast the alcohol is consumed
- Ethnicity (belonging to a social group)
- Body fat content
- Food consumption before or during drinking
- Fat content of food consumed
- If the person is on any medication
When the blood alcohol level rises beyond 0.055, blood and body tissues start to absorb the extra alcohol and causes unpleasant effects like depression, irritability, nausea, vomiting, disorientation and memory loss.
There are no defined guidelines for the consumption of alcohol. It is suggested not to drink more than 2 standard drinks on any day, to reduce the risk of harmful effects from alcohol. Alcohol can have wavering effect on a person depending on their age, gender, mental health, any medical condition and drug used.
Do not let alcohol become the master of you. Love your health, enjoy your drink but drink in moderation!
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