Everyone knows that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption and significant alcohol use can lead to alchohol-associated liver disease that can eventually lead to alcohol-related cirrhosis (end stage) or acute-on-chronic liver failure (critical).
But significant alcohol use does not affect only the liver. The whole body takes a toll. Here are some lesser known but important effects on the human body with significant alcohol use.
1⃣ It stresses the pancreas (an organ that has major digestive and endocrine functions, like secretion of insulin) leading to alcohol-related pancreatitis that can further lead to chronic pancreatitis with large stone development in pancreas, pancreas destruction and state of diabetes which is very difficult to control. Independent of pancreas disease, alcohol use above 30-40g per day increases risk of diabetes in the consumer. Acute pancreatitis is also one among the top 10 painful conditions known to humans.
2⃣ Alcoholic cardiomyopathy is a condition where the alcohol damages the heart muscles for the heart to become weaker and it swells up like a balloon, losing its capacity to pump better with all its chambers and valves getting stretch damaged. As it progresses, the condition is irreversible and most patients become bed bound and would not be able to even walk a few steps.
3⃣ Road traffic accidents. A large proportion of the young, productive men and women in our community lose their lives early in road traffic accidents and alcohol use and alcohol-intoxication are among the commonest MODIFIABLE & AVOIDABLE disease burden, the corrective efforts through education of which can help us retain our young in the community for a better future.
4⃣ Dependence behaviour, harmful use, psychotic behaviour, withdrawal state and amnesic syndrome are direct effects on the brain that leads to domestic violence, violence against children, sexual assault sometimes resulting in rape, broken families, elder-abuse, social & financial loss leading to death by suicide or chronic mental health disorder in the person who use alcohol or her/his family members.
5⃣ Alcohol-related polyneuropathy, a condition where alcohol progressively destroy the nerves of the feet and hands. This process is chronic and sometimes very painful (due to dying nerve endings) with burning, cramps and severe insomnia that makes the person turn into “an empty shell” version of her/his previous self, incapciating and with suicidal ideations due to pain in many affected.
6⃣ In women who drink, the growing baby in the uterus is maximally affected leading to a condition known as “fetal alcohol spectrum syndrome” where the new born baby can develop many features ranging from small head, small eye openings, poor muscle coordination, learning difficulties, hearing and vision problems, joint/bone/heart disease, brain disorder, persistent state of brain failure and stunted growth. Why do that to children?
7⃣ In males, it can lead to impotence & infertility, low sperm count and sperm quality, many patients are not able to achieve an erection, most cannot maintain an erection, many others lose libido or their desire for sex leading to poor quality life with partners leading to mental health disorder not only in the affected, but also in the partner.
8⃣ Alcohol damages your immune system’s power to fight infections. Many patients even without liver disease, but consuming signifcant alcohol develop major infections such as tuberculosis, painful infections like Herpes and develop life threatening pneumonia due to a killer-bacteria called Klebsiella pneumoniae.
9⃣ Signficant alcohol use increases the risk of cancer of the oral cavity, throat (pharynx, larynx), food pipe (esophagus), liver, large intestine (colon, rectum) and female breast.
🔟Alcohol use also increases the chance of developing clots/blocks in the blood vessels of the brain (cerebrovascular accident), bleeding into the brain especially lower part (cerebellar bleeding, that leads to complete muscle discordination), clots in the heart (myocardial infarction or MI) and avery painful condition called peripheral vascular disease where slow and steady, the arteries in the legs get blocked leading to extreme painful condition that results in suicidal ideation, damage and gangrene of feet and amputation/ loss of limb function or loss of life.