How Alcohol Affects Your Body

Chronic alcohol use can also weaken the immune system and impair the proper functioning of the brain. Alcohol doesn’t just affect the mind; it also affects the body. Regular, heavy alcohol consumption can also result in unhealthy weight gain. Even drinking small amounts of alcohol increases your cancer risk. But drinking too much alcohol can negatively affect your physical and mental health, your actions, and your decision-making. There are many short and long-term side effects of alcohol consumption.

  • Within minutes of consuming alcohol, it is absorbed into the bloodstream by blood vessels in the stomach lining and small intestine.
  • To prevent choking, turn them on to their side and put a cushion under their head.
  • Dependent drinkers with a higher tolerance to alcohol can often drink much more without experiencing any noticeable effects.

For example, even light drinkers (those who have no more than one drink a day) have a tiny, but real, increased risk of some cancers, such as esophageal cancer. By not drinking too much, you can reduce the risk of these short- and long-term health risks. People who binge drink or drink heavily may notice more health effects sooner, but alcohol also poses some risks for people who drink in moderation.

When you go sober for even a month, your body will change. Here’s how.

Unhealthy alcohol use includes any alcohol use that puts your health or safety at risk or causes other alcohol-related problems. It also includes binge drinking — a pattern of drinking where a male has five or more drinks within two hours or a female has at least four drinks within two hours. Another study has shown that drinking red wine may help individuals with coronary heart disease. Epidemiological studies have supported that red wine is more coronary heart preventative in comparison to other alcoholic beverages.

  • Heavy drinking and beer are linked to increased weight gain, while light to moderate drinking and wine are linked to reduced weight gain.
  • It is the amount of alcohol consumed that affects a person most, not the type of alcoholic drink.
  • The negative side effects of alcohol can also accumulate, harming your health over your lifetime.
  • They may have an intolerance, insensitivity, or allergy to alcohol or another ingredient in a drink.

That cotton-mouthed, bleary-eyed morning-after is no accident. Alcohol makes you dehydrated and makes blood vessels in your body and brain expand. Your stomach wants to get rid of the toxins and acid that alcohol churns up, which gives you nausea and vomiting. And because your liver was so busy processing alcohol effects on the body your drinks, it didn’t release enough sugar into your blood, bringing on weakness and the shakes. This could help explain why women are more likely to have negative effects from alcohol. Parents should also discuss with their teens the dangers of binge drinking— consuming more than five drinks in a row.

Heart health

For many of us, alcohol is embedded in our social and cultural activities. We go to happy hour after work, we give toasts at weddings, and we drink to celebrate and mark occasions. Oftentimes, we aren’t thinking about how much or how often we consume alcohol or its effects on the body. There are many dangerous risks that come with alcohol abuse. Alcohol is a factor in 40% of fatal motor vehicle crashes, fatal falls, and suicides; 50% of severe trauma injuries and sexual assaults; and 60% of fatal burn injuries, homicides, and drownings. There are also studies that show light to moderate consumption of red wine may increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL), so-called “good cholesterol,” and reduce cholesterol buildup.

Some people who drink eventually develop a tolerance to alcohol. As a result, they eventually need to drink more to notice the same effects they once did. Alcohol use can factor into mental health symptoms that closely resemble those of other mental health conditions.

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The negative effects of alcohol can impact your body long term. Here are some ways that regular heavy drinking can affect your physical health. While alcohol intoxication is only temporary, chronic alcohol abuse can impair brain function permanently. However, moderate drinking may have benefits for brain health — especially among older adults. Consuming moderate amounts of alcohol may offer some health benefits. However, heavy drinking can have a negative impact on your mood and the function of your brain, heart, and other bodily systems.

“Low levels, like a drink a day on average or less, is probably not meaningfully increasing your risk.” Specialists in liver disease, oncology and cardiology, among others, argue there’s no totally safe level of alcohol. In recent years scientists have debated how much alcohol is safe for the average person to drink. There’s no question that too much is unhealthy, but what counts as too much is still being debated. Recommendations for alcohol intake are usually based on the number of standard drinks per day.

Still, genetic makeup contributes about 50% to 60% of vulnerability to alcohol use disorder, Karpyak said, with environmental factors making up the balance. Compared to men, women are more likely to avoid alcohol entirely or drink less. But women who do drink excessively develop more medical problems, Karpyak’s review of contemporary research has found.