How Does Alcohol Damage the Vital Organs?
When most people think about alcohol-related deaths, they think of drinking and driving. Unfortunately, alcoholism can increase the odds of developing cancer, committing suicide, and many adverse health outcomes.
Drinking alcohol and organ damage go hand in hand with excessive drinking. The Centers for Disease Control are campaigning to educate the American public on what the standard drink is and how it differs from excessive drinking.
Why Is Alcohol So Damaging?
The National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics proved in 2020, 140,557 Americans died from the effects of alcohol in an average year. Alcohol damages vital organs with excessive and long-term use.
Excessive drinking for women is 4 or more drinks during one occasion, and 5 or more for men. Heavy drinking for women is 8 or more drinks a week, and for men 15 or more drinks per week.
Alcohol can weaken the immune system, which works to protect the body and its organs from infection and disease. Consuming alcohol keeps the body from performing normal processes.
It damages vital organs, causing bacteria to grow in the gut, which can migrate into the intestinal wall and the liver. Alcohol and organ damage are only part of a precarious situation with alcoholism. Drinking alcohol can put people at a greater risk of developing cancers.
Regular drinking over time increases the risk of the following cancers:
- Head and neck cancer, including oral cavity, pharynx, and larynx cancers
- Esophageal cancer
- Liver cancer
- Breast cancer
- Colorectal cancer
Alcohol and Brain Damage
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reveals through various studies and research how alcohol has a disturbing effect on brain chemistry. Alcohol damages vital organs and interferes with the brain’s communication pathways, affecting mood, behavior, and cognitive ability.
Hangovers are a typical experience with excessive drinking and can be painful and dangerous. Brain damage can cause challenges with coordination and decision-making skills and add hidden dangers from accidents and the chance of overdose.
Alcohol’s Effect on the Heart and Kidneys
Alcohol damages vital organs, especially the heart. Those with an alcohol use disorder are at a higher risk of high blood pressure. Cardiomyopathy (diseased heart muscle) and arrhythmias (unusual heartbeat) are often the result of excessive alcohol use. A stroke is another critical possibility involving excessive intake of alcohol.
The National Kidney Foundation is trying to raise awareness of the unfortunate effects of alcohol and organ damage. The kidneys filter blood, a vital function, and regulate fluids and electrolytes in the body.
Alcohol abuse disrupts the kidneys from functioning correctly and may dehydrate the body, which affects cells and other organs. Excessive drinking can damage the kidneys and cause them to work inefficiently or not at all.
Alcohol and the Liver
The fact that alcohol damages vital organs is becoming more apparent in the knowledge that the liver must work hard to detoxify and remove alcohol from the blood. The liver cannot store alcohol, so it moves quickly to the front of the line to metabolize.
Thus, the liver detoxifies and removes alcohol from the blood, which is oxidation. Once oxidation is complete, the alcohol in the liver becomes water and carbon dioxide. Fatty liver is a condition that occurs because of the oxidative metabolism of alcohol, which generates molecules that inhibit fat oxidation.
Roughly 90% of people who drink more than 1 ½ to 2 ounces of alcohol per day develop fatty liver. Fatty liver can result in liver fibrosis and, finally, cirrhosis. Fatty liver is reversible within 4 to 6 weeks with no alcohol use, but cirrhosis is irreversible and can lead to liver failure.
Pancreas Damage and Alcoholism
Alcohol damages vital organs such as the pancreas that help the digestive system by producing enzymes that break down sugars, fats, and starches. Also, the pancreas makes hormones, or chemical messengers, to regulate blood sugar levels and appetite.
The chemical messengers are critical in stimulating stomach acids and directing the stomach to empty. Signs and symptoms of problems with the pancreas due to alcoholism can be extreme pain for unknown reasons.
Abusing alcohol can cause organ damage, including the pancreas. Inflammation of the pancreas or pancreatitis results from alcohol, causing the pancreas to produce toxic substances.
This dangerous inflammation can cause extreme pain and swelling and impair the pancreas’s ability to make enzymes and hormones necessary for the proper digestion of foods. Damage to the pancreas can be irreversible, but the long-term condition is manageable with a special diet.
Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorders
It’s a fact that organ damage is a result of excessive alcohol use. Still, those who seek rehab to stop abusing alcohol can be successful in managing health issues with medical supervision.
Therapy begins with an assessment from healthcare professionals to determine physical and mental health issues. Understanding each individual’s complete picture is vital before starting the detoxification process. Detoxing from alcohol can be challenging to endure.
Medically managed detox from alcohol is imperative for safe and effective detoxification.
Withdrawal symptoms from ending alcohol use can be uncomfortable and medically challenging to monitor. Symptoms can be extreme, and if delirium tremens develop, it may be life-threatening.
When choosing a rehab center for ending an alcohol use disorder, it is essential to find experienced healthcare professionals who understand how difficult alcohol detox can be.
Find Professional Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorders in Tennessee
Concerns for alcohol and vital organ damage are realistic, and those seeking treatment to end an AUD need experience in every aspect of treatment.
Freeman Recovery Center in Tennessee offers safe and effective alcohol detox programs and various options for rehab. Evidence-based therapies are proven to be successful and beneficial for relapse prevention.
Contact Freeman Recovery Center today to make an appointment for an assessment.