While the occasional drink may have little impact on your health, the story changes when alcohol consumption becomes a daily habit. In this article, I’ll dig into what truly happens to your body if you drink alcohol every day.
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What happens when you drink alcohol
Alcohol is normally absorbed into your bloodstream through your stomach and small intestine. Once in your blood, it affects your central nervous system, which comprises your brain and spinal cord. Your liver then metabolizes the alcohol at a rate of about one standard drink per hour. Any excess alcohol remains in the blood, leading to intoxication.
Short-Term Effects of Daily Alcohol Use
Even before the long-term effects kick in, drinking alcohol daily can lead to noticeable short-term consequences. These include:
- Dehydration: Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it makes you urinate more frequently. This can quickly lead to dehydration, causing headaches, dizziness, and thirst.
- Poor Sleep: Although alcohol can make you feel sleepy, it disrupts the quality of your sleep by preventing you from reaching the deeper, restorative stages of the sleep cycle.
- Weight Gain: Alcohol is particularly high in calories and can lead to weight gain and obesity over time. Plus, it can increase your appetite, making you consume more calories than you normally would.
Long-Term Effects of Daily Alcohol Use
Persistent daily drinking can lead to more severe health problems over time. Some of these long-term effects include:
Impact on the Brain
Daily alcohol use can have several harmful effects on the brain:
- Cognitive Decline: Chronic alcohol consumption can lead to issues with memory, attention, and decision-making skills.
- Mental Health Problems: Regular heavy drinking increases the odds of developing mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. Alcohol alters the levels of neurotransmitters in your brain, affecting mood and behavior.
Damage to the Liver
The liver is particularly vulnerable to chronic alcohol consumption:
- Fatty Liver: An early stage of liver disease where fats build up in the liver, affecting its ability to function.
- Alcoholic Hepatitis: Inflammation and damage to the liver caused by excessive alcohol consumption. Symptoms include yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), nausea, and abdominal pain.
- Cirrhosis: A late stage of liver disease where the liver is severely scarred and can no longer function properly.
Digestive System Problems
Daily alcohol use can interfere with the digestive system in several ways:
- Stomach Issues: Alcohol irritates the stomach lining, which can cause gastritis, ulcers, and potentially stomach cancer.
- Pancreatitis: Heavy drinking can lead to inflammation of the pancreas, causing severe abdominal pain and weight loss.
Heart and Circulatory System
Over time, excessive alcohol use may make you have several heart-related issues:
- High Blood Pressure: Regular heavy drinking can raise your blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Heart Disease: Chronic heavy drinking can lead to a range of heart problems, including cardiomyopathy (a disease of the heart muscle), heart failure, and heart attack.
It’s clear that daily alcohol use can have far-reaching effects on the body, from immediate impacts on hydration and sleep to long-term health risks like liver disease and heart problems. It’s essential to comprehend the implications of regular alcohol consumption on our health. Remember, moderation is key, and it’s always okay to seek help if you or someone you know struggles with alcohol use.
Further Reading: 7 Tips to Quit Drinking Alcohol