Alcohol can have various effects on internal organs when consumed in excessive amounts or over a prolonged period. Here are some of the devastating effects of excessive alcohol consumption on internal organs:
- Liver: Alcohol is primarily metabolized in the liver, and excessive alcohol consumption can lead to liver damage. Conditions such as fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, and cirrhosis can occur due to alcohol abuse.
- Pancreas: Alcohol can cause inflammation of the pancreas, leading to pancreatitis. Chronic alcohol abuse increases the risk of developing pancreas-related diseases.
- Heart: Heavy drinking can elevate blood pressure, increase the risk of heart disease, and contribute to irregular heart rhythms. Long-term alcohol abuse can weaken the heart muscles, leading to cardiomyopathy.
- Brain: Alcohol affects the central nervous system, causing short-term effects like impaired judgment, coordination, and memory. Long-term alcohol abuse may lead to cognitive decline, neurological disorders, and an increased risk of stroke.
- Stomach and Digestive System: Alcohol can irritate the lining of the stomach, leading to gastritis, ulcers, and increased acid production. It can also interfere with nutrient absorption and contribute to malnutrition.
- Kidneys: Alcohol acts as a diuretic, increasing urine production and potentially leading to dehydration. Long-term alcohol abuse can also contribute to kidney damage and impaired function.
It’s crucial to note that moderate alcohol consumption and responsible drinking pose fewer risks to internal organs compared to excessive or chronic abuse. Seeking medical advice and support is essential for those struggling with alcohol-related issues. In the below sections we will discuss the adverse effects of alcohol on some vital internal organs.
Action on the stomach
Alcohol can have detrimental effects on the stomach, leading to significant disruptions in its normal functioning. Excessive alcohol consumption can impair the stomach’s ability to produce sufficient digestive fluids and hinder proper food absorption. As a result, individuals may experience symptoms such as nausea, emptiness, prostration, and bloating. This can lead to a decreased appetite for food while simultaneously increasing cravings for more alcohol. Over time, this pattern of alcohol consumption can contribute to a chronic disorder known as dyspepsia, characterized by persistent digestive disturbances. The consistent practice of heavy drinking can ultimately give rise to severe forms of indigestion and related complications.
How the liver gets affected
The prolonged use of alcohol can lead to severe organic deterioration, with potentially fatal consequences. Among the organs affected, the liver is particularly vulnerable. Normally, the liver has the ability to retain active substances within its cells. Similarly, in cases of poisoning by various toxic compounds, the liver acts as a central repository for these substances. Alcohol behaves similarly in this regard. In individuals who consume alcohol regularly, the liver is never completely free from its influence and often becomes saturated with it. The delicate membranous structure of the liver is affected, impairing its ability to properly filter waste products and produce necessary secretions. As a result, the liver enlarges due to dilated blood vessels, accumulation of fluid, and tissue thickening. This is accompanied by the contraction of the liver’s membrane and shrinkage of its cellular components. Consequently, the lower parts of an alcoholic’s body can develop edema (swelling) due to the hindered return of blood through the veins. Additionally, the liver may accumulate fatty cells, leading to a condition known as “fatty liver.” These changes significantly compromise the liver’s function and contribute to the overall deterioration of health in individuals affected by alcohol abuse.
How the Kidneys deteriorate
Excessive alcohol consumption also takes a toll on the kidneys. The blood vessels in the kidneys lose their elasticity and ability to contract properly. Additionally, the microscopic structures within the kidneys undergo fatty changes. As a consequence, albumin, a protein present in the blood, can easily pass through the kidney membranes. This leads to a gradual loss of the body’s essential components, as if it were gradually being depleted of blood. These adverse effects on the kidneys impair their normal function and contribute to overall health deterioration in individuals who consume alcohol excessively.
Congestion of the lungs
Alcohol has a relaxing effect on the blood vessels of the lungs, particularly because the lungs are highly susceptible to temperature changes. When exposed to rapid fluctuations in atmospheric temperature, the blood vessels in the lungs can quickly become congested. This vulnerability becomes particularly evident during severe winter seasons, as alcohol can exacerbate the risk of sudden and potentially fatal lung congestion in individuals who consume alcohol excessively.
Alcohol weakens the heart
Alcohol consumption has a significant impact on the heart. It leads to changes in the quality of the membranous structures that cover and line the heart, causing them to thicken and become cartilaginous or calcified. As a result, the heart valves lose their suppleness, leading to a condition known as valvular disorder, which becomes permanent. Moreover, the layers of the major blood vessel that carries blood away from the heart undergo similar structural changes. Consequently, the blood vessel loses its elasticity and its ability to assist the heart by recoiling and supplying blood after the heart contracts and fills it. These alterations in the heart and blood vessels can have profound consequences on cardiovascular health and function in individuals who consume alcohol excessively.
Once again, the muscular structure of the heart is adversely affected by alcohol consumption, leading to degenerative changes in its tissue. The elements of the heart’s muscular fibers can be replaced by fatty cells, or if not replaced, they undergo modifications that result in a weakened muscular texture with significantly reduced contractile strength. This deterioration of the heart muscle compromises its ability to pump blood effectively and contributes to various cardiovascular complications associated with excessive alcohol consumption.
Individuals who experience these deteriorations in the central organ responsible for blood circulation often become aware of the problem only when it has advanced significantly. They may notice a gradual loss of power in the central functions of the body due to minor triggers such as exertion, emotional distress, disrupted sleep, or prolonged periods without food. They describe a sensation of “sinking” but find that consuming wine or other stimulants immediately relieves this feeling. Consequently, they rely on these remedies until they eventually realize that the relief, they once obtained is no longer effective. The weary, overburdened heart can no longer tolerate further strain. It has reached its limit, and the vital control over blood flow is compromised. As a result, the blood either accumulates gradually in the tissues, obstructing the natural pathways, or comes to a complete stop at the center due to even a slight shock or excessive motion.