How Does Alcohol Actually Affect Your Health?

    Women who drink excessively might also experience irregular menstruation which can be an issue when it comes to fertility. Also, heavy drinking during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage, premature birth and even stillbirth. Pregnant women are advised not to drink alcohol at all. Fetuses exposed to alcohol while in the womb have a high risk of developing fetal alcohol syndrome disorder. This is a serious condition that affects the brain development and normal growth of a baby. Other ways alcohol seriously affects the health of a baby include emotional disorders, learning problems, and physical development issues. 

    4 Long Term Effects Of Alcohol

    1. Alcohol And The Digestive System

    Although the connection between alcohol consumption and the digestive system is vague, alcohol does adversely affect the health of the digestive system, which is usually noticeable after the damage has been done. Drinking excessively can damage the digestive tract tissues and can make it difficult for the intestines to digest foods and absorb nutrients. The result of this is typically malnutrition.

    Heavy drinkers are at risk of developing stomach ulcers (an open sore on the luminal surface of stomach) and hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are inflammation of veins in the rectum and anus as a result of constipation and dehydration, which causes bleeding and discomfort. They also have a higher risk of developing certain types of cancer such as throat, mouth, esophagus, liver and colon cancer.

    Other symptoms that heavy drinkers experience with their digestive system include diarrhea, feeling of fullness in the stomach, bloating and gassiness.

    1. Alcohol Consumption Can Cause Compromise The Immune System 

    When you take too much alcohol, it reduces the natural immune system of your body. Your immune system helps your body fight off foreign invaders that cause diseases and infections. A compromised immune system means your body’s ability to fight off diseases gets reduced. Heavy long term drinkers have a higher tendency to develop tuberculosis and pneumonia. In fact, about 10 percent of cases of tuberculosis worldwide are linked to alcohol intake. Drinking alcohol also has an affect your health by increasing the risk of different types of cancer. Cancers as well, affect the body’s immune system, weakening the system. 

    1. Alcohol Can Affect The Health Of The Musculoskeletal System

    The musculoskeletal system consists of the muscles and bones of the body. Heavy intake of alcohol can cause muscle cramps and muscle weakness which can eventually lead to muscle atrophy. Muscle atrophy is the wasting of the muscle that is typically caused by a lack of mobility or physical activity. Long-term consumption of alcohol can also affect the bones. The bones tend to get weaker and thinner with alcohol consumption. Such a person starts experiencing falls which increase the risk for fractures. It makes it worse than the fractures, in this case, tend to heal slowly. 

    1. Alcohol And Dependency

    Many heavy drinkers, over time, develop an emotional and physical dependence on alcohol. This often leads to alcoholism. At this point, it becomes difficult to withdraw from alcohol. If nothing is done to treat this condition, such a person stands the risk of developing the health conditions and system damages as listed in this article. 

    For alcoholics, it is hard to find them in a sober state. In fact, it takes the help of treatments and therapies to break away from alcohol addiction. Some of the symptoms that might be experienced with alcohol withdrawal include anxiety, tremors, nausea, nervousness, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, hallucinations, seizures and excessive sweating.

    Are There Any Benefits Of Alcohol Consumption?

    No doubt, the list of the adverse effects of alcohol on health is a long one. However, moderate drinking of alcohol might have some benefits associated with it.

    Moderate alcohol consumption has a social and psychological component. It can help relieve some stress, especially when consumed together with family or friends or in social situations. Since alcohol drinking tends to encourage social interaction, it is often considered to be a “social lubricant.” Some case studies have also noted that moderate consumption of alcohol might provide some other health benefits such as:

    • possible reduction in the risk of diabetes
    • possible reduction of risk of developing ischemic stroke
    • reducing the chances of developing heart diseases

    While there might be some benefits linked with occasional alcohol intake, the health risks and dangers generally outweigh its benefits. 

    Is Alcohol For Everybody?

    While some studies might have highlighted some positive effects of minimal or moderate consumption of alcohol, some people should not consume alcohol at all. It is advised that these individuals avoid alcohol consumption by all means, including:

    • pregnant women
    • people younger than 21 years
    • people who are suffering from certain health conditions such as diabetes, heart failure, high blood pressure, cardiomyopathy, a history of hemorrhagic stroke, etc.
    • people with liver or pancreatic disease conditions
    • people with a history of alcoholism or people recovering from alcoholism
    • drivers or people intending to drive (including pilots)
    • people who are consuming certain prescriptions that can interact with alcohol (your doctor should be able to tell you of possible contradictions))


    We all have individual differences and alcohol affects on health also vary from person to person. While some have the ability to control their alcohol intake, some others lack that ability. Some of the factors that can influence the effects of alcohol on the body include the amount of alcohol consumed, the individual’s gender, alcohol tolerance level, as well as the person’s medical history. It is important for every individual to understand what constitutes the drink you take, how you can handle it,  and how it can affect your specific overall health and wellbeing, in the short and long term.


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