Within thirty seconds after your first alcoholic sip, it reaches into your brain. Here it slows down the chemicals and pathways that your brain cells use to send messages. Consequently, you experience altered mood, slower reflexes, and off balanced movements. In addition, you also can’t think straight, and you can’t speak normally. And, if you’re at a social event, well, it can get downright embarrassing. Most importantly, alcohol can lead to serious chronic illnesses, such as heart and brain disease.
Alcohol: Watch Your Brain Shrink And Shrivel
Not a pretty sight, my friends. If you drink heavily for even a moderate time, the booze will affect how your brain looks and works. Brain cells start to change and even get smaller. Indeed, too much alcohol will actually shrink your brain. And that’ll have a negative effect on your ability to think, learn, and remember things. Moreover, it will also make it harder to maintain a steady body temperature as well as control your movements.
Alcohol: Do You Really Sleep Better?
Alcohol’s slow-down effect on your brain will make you drowsy, so you will definitely doze off more easily. But you won’t sleep well at all because your body processes it throughout the night. Once the effects wear off, it leaves you tossing and turning. Consequently, you don’t get that good REM sleep your body needs to feel restored. And you’re more likely to have nightmares and vivid dreams. Finally, your entire night’s sleep cycles will be messed up, since you’ll wake up more often for trips to the bathroom.
Booze irritates the lining of your stomach and makes your digestive juices flow. When enough acid and alcohol build up, you then get nauseated and you may throw up. Moreover, years of heavy drinking can cause painful sores called ulcers in your stomach. And high levels of stomach juices mean you won’t feel hungry. That’s one reason long-term drinkers often don’t get all the nutrients they need.
Alcohol: Diarrhea and Heartburn
Your small intestine and colon get irritated, too. Alcohol throws off the normal speed that food moves through them. That’s why hard drinking can lead to diarrhea, which can turn into a long-term problem. It also makes heartburn more likely, since it relaxes the muscle that keeps acid out of the tube (esophagus) that connects your mouth to your stomach.
Alcohol: Why You Have to Pee Constantly
Your brain gives off a hormone that keeps your kidneys from making too much urine. But when alcohol swings into action, it tells your brain to hold off. That means you have to go more often, which will leave you dehydrated. When you drink heavily for years, that extra workload and the toxic effects of alcohol will destroy your kidneys.
Alcohol: Say Hello To Liver Disease
Your liver breaks down almost all the alcohol you drink. In the process, it handles a lot of toxins. Over time, heavy drinking makes the organ fatty and lets thicker, fibrous tissue build up. That limits blood flow, so liver cells don’t get what they need to survive. As these cells die off, the liver gets scars and stops working as well, a chronic disease called cirrhosis.
Alcohol: Pancreas Damage and Diabetes
Normally, this organ makes insulin and other chemicals that help your intestines break down food. But alcohol jams that process up and the chemicals stay inside the pancreas. Furthermore, along with toxins from alcohol, they cause inflammation in the liver. Consequently, your liver can’t make the insulin you need which then results in diabetes. And finally, it also makes you more likely to get pancreatic cancer.
That cotton-mouthed, bleary-eyed morning-after is no accident. Alcohol makes you dehydrated and makes blood vessels in your body and brain expand. That gives you your headache. Your stomach wants to get rid of the toxins and acid that booze churns up, which gives you nausea and vomiting. And because your liver was so busy processing alcohol, it didn’t release enough sugar into your blood, bringing on weakness and the shakes.
Alcohol: Irregular Heart Beats
One night of binge drinking can jumble the electrical signals that keep your heart’s rhythm steady. If you do it for years, you can make those changes permanent. And, alcohol can literally wear your heart out. Over time, it causes heart muscles to droop and stretch, like an old rubber band. It can’t pump blood as well, and that impacts every part of your body.
Alcohol: Body Temperature Changes
Booze widens your blood vessels, making more blood flow to your skin. That makes you blush and feel warm and toasty. But not for long. The heat from that extra blood passes right out of your body, causing your temperature to drop. On the other hand, long-term, heavy drinking boosts your blood pressure. It makes your body release stress hormones that narrow blood vessels, so your heart has to pump harder just to push blood through.
Alcohol: A Weaker Immune System
You might not link a cold with a night of drinking, but there might be a connection. Alcohol puts the brakes on your immune system. Your body can’t make the numbers of white blood cells it needs to fight germs. So for 24 hours after drinking, you’re more likely to get sick. Long-term, heavy drinkers are much more likely to get illnesses like pneumonia and tuberculosis.
Alcohol: Your Hormones Get Whacked
These powerful chemicals manage everything from your sex drive to how fast you digest food. To keep it all going smoothly, you need them in the right balance. But alcohol throws them out of whack. In women, that can knock your periods off cycle and cause problems getting pregnant. In men, it can mean trouble getting an erection, a lower sperm count, shrinking testicles, and breast growth.
Alcohol: Hearing Loss
Alcohol impacts your hearing, but no one’s sure exactly how. It could be that it messes with the part of your brain that processes sound. Or it might damage the nerves and tiny hairs in your inner ear that help you hear. However it happens, drinking means you need a sound to be louder so you can hear it. And that can become permanent. Long-term drinkers often have hearing loss.
Thin Bones, Less Muscle
Heavy drinking will throw off your calcium levels. Along with the hormone changes that alcohol triggers, that can keep your body from building new bone. They get thinner and more fragile, a condition called osteoporosis. Booze also limits blood flow your muscles and gets in the way of the proteins that build them up. Over time, you’ll have lower muscle mass and less strength.
Drink in moderation. More than that and you risk your health and even your life.
Watch this informative video on the effects of alcohol on your brain.