Do you drink? Did you say Yes! Then, I am sure you would have heard of the side effects of the same. But let me remind you again, in case you have taken them too lightly…
Alcohol, the assumed solution for low confidence, bad days in the office, and social cohesion, has built-up quite the reputation. The social drinkers, indulge drinkers, occasional drinkers, and abstainers, after-all, all share an opinion on this (in)famous drug. But let me not delve into these psycho-social issues and take you on a journey of a different kind. It begins with that infamous phrase, “Fancy a drink?”
Once you pick up the goblet, the journey begins with your alcoholic drink slipping past your lips, down your throat and into your stomach. If you are drinking a carbonated drink, your alcohol will be absorbed faster as the pressure increases inside your stomach, forcing alcohol into your blood stream. This compared to the understanding consumer, who already has a stomach lined with food to decrease absorption. Soon, alcohol is absorbed into your blood stream. The portal vein, connecting your gut to your liver, acts as the super-highway transporting your alcohol, which his now neatly dissolved in your bloodstream.
At the liver, the alcohol is broken down into safe bi-products of acetate, water and carbon dioxide with brutal efficiency. Of course, there are limits. Too much alcohol can fast overwhelm your liver’s capacity to absorb your liquid, and consequently your blood alcohol level rises.
A rising level has a lot of effects – both the short and long term. Now you could argue that the alcohol in your body is relaxing, aiding social interaction, and even promoting cardiovascular disease prevention. Yes, it does that by travelling to your central nervous system where it depresses activity by interfering with signals. As your alcohol alters these, communication between your brain cells becomes increasingly impaired. We’ve all heard the phrase “I just didn’t know what I was thinking!”
But only moderated levels of alcohol promote your said relaxation which consequently improves your blood pressure – an established risk factor for diseases including heart attacks and strokes.
Alas, we are only humans. We don’t just get satisfied with only one drink. With repeated drinking, your alcohol level will go past that happy and euphoric level of 10-30 milligrams per deciliter and you will start slurring your speech, and feeling sick. Ultimately Vomiting is triggered to get rid of your toxic, poisonous level of alcohol now achieved.
Somehow you survive the day. Now fast forward 5 years, 10 years, even 30 years. Chronic, excessive alcohol consumption can affect nearly every single organ in your body – Your liver being the most affected.
Your heart can beat abnormally, your stomach can develop gastric ulcers that can rupture and cause bleeding, your pancreas can fail with diabetes ensuing, and your risk of cancer of the esophagus, tongue, and liver increase. If you have already started feeling sad, let me tell you that I have barely scratched the surface of the damaging chronic effects of alcohol excess.
Agreed, we choose to drink different amounts. But Alcohol is here to stay, ingrained on the fabric of our modern society. Yes, your body is designed to cope with it in moderation but excess leads to significant short and long term health implications. Remember too that your health is not just about physical wellbeing; Total Health comprises your physical, psychological, social, and spiritual health. I will close by saying please drink responsibly. If you are concerned about your drinking then your Doctor can help – you just have to ask.
Source: The Times of India