11 Oct How does alcohol affect the body?
Alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream by the blood vessels in your stomach and small intestine. About 20% of the alcohol you consume enters your system through your stomach walls, the other 80% is mostly absorbed into your body by your small intestine. Once in your bloodstream, it quickly produces its effects.
Your liver is put to work immediately to eliminate the alcohol from your blood stream because it knows that it is a poison to your body. But your liver can only metabolize (meaning process, digest) a certain amount of alcohol at a time, leaving the rest in your body until you stop drinking (or pass out) so that the liver can catch up. If you have way too much alcohol in your body, your liver may never get a chance to fully clean out your system. (Over time, alcoholics get serious liver damage and some even die from it.)
Your respiratory system….
Meanwhile, because alcohol is a depressant your respiratory system can slow down so much that oxygen is unable to reach your brain, which will cause death because your brain needs oxygen-carrying blood to survive.
Your body’s limit….
You may wonder how much you can drink before you reach these dangerous levels. That depends on a variety of factors—your body weight, mass, height, food in your system, your metabolism, and more. Everyone is different! But when the blood alcohol content reaches a certain level (0.3 to 0.4) you’re in the danger zone. (You can find out about BAC in the BAC sub-post which will help you to understand what influences them.) And, at that level another very real danger is that your judgment is gone. You are far less likely to think, Hey, I’m pretty drunk. I think I’ll stop. Instead, most people think, Hey, this feels awesome. I think I’ll have another. And another.
Barfing…it does a body good….
Unfortunately, quite a few people, at some point, will toss their cookies (puke, vomit, etc.), especially if they binge drink. Binge drinking (see sub-post below, but that’s when a person drinks a lot in a short period of time) will very likely lead to barfing because it is the body’s way to save a life. It happens when a person has consumed way more alcohol than the body can manage, and so the body says, “Enough of this stuff, let’s get it out of here,” and triggers the stomach reflex to barf. When this happens, the person is in trouble. It’s the very first sign of a potentially life-threatening situation.
In sum, alcohol is hard on the body. Besides the effects mentioned above, here is a more complete list of the short and long term consequences of alcohol:
- impaired judgement
- memory impairment
- slurred speech
- vomiting (puking, barfing, upchucking, spilling your cookies, wretching)
- loss of physical co-ordination (bump into walls, spill drinks, slobber, and fall over in front of cute hottie, or your parents)
- headaches (massive)
- black outs (as in you have NO recollection of what you did OR what was done to you)
- death (by poisoning, suffocating on your own vomit, accidents or drunk driving)
Long term: (the list is so long, we’ve spared you the commentary)
- Memory loss
- brain damage
- mouth and throat cancer
- cirrhosis of the liver
- liver cancer
- high blood pressure
- increased risk of heart attack and stroke
- heart complications
- lung infections
- alcohol hepatitis
- stomach ulcers
- internal bleeding
- inflammation of the pancreas
- ulcers and cancers of the colon
- less nutrient and vitamin absorption
- chronic kidney disease
- weak bones (alcohol interferes with your body’s ability to absorb calcium)
- weight gain
- personality disorders and schizophrenia.
- In men: impotence and infertility
- In women: infertility and birth defects to unborn baby if you drink alcohol while pregnant
Almost every organ in the body is affected by alcohol, either directly or indirectly. Each year, thousands of people develop liver disease, respiratory problems, anemia, obesity and malnutrition due to abusive drinking. You will also have a greater chance of other serious diseases because alcohol weakens your immune system. Here’s its slogan: Alcohol it DOESN’T do a body good.
How did you feel when you read about the short and long term effects of alcohol? Did any of them surprise you? If so which ones?