What Are the Effects of Alcohol on the Human Body?

Meshell Powell

There are many potential effects of alcohol on the human body, depending on the amount of alcohol consumed and whether alcoholic beverages are consumed regularly over an extended period of time. Mood and behavior changes are often the first noticeable effects, followed closely by incoordination or slurred speech. Long-term effects of alcohol on the human body may include damage to the heart, liver, or digestive organs. The risks of developing some forms of cancer may increase with long-term or excessive use of alcohol. Babies who are born to mothers who consume alcohol during pregnancy often have birth defects such as fetal alcohol syndrome.

Alcohol abuse can severely damage the liver.
Alcohol abuse can severely damage the liver.

The initial effects of alcohol on the human body typically involve the central nervous system. Mood changes such as euphoria, impaired judgment, and disorientation may also develop. Physical effects may include incoordination, slurred speech, or vomiting. Excessive alcohol use may lead to circulation problems, difficulty breathing, or death.

Excessive beer consumption can cause dehydration and severe headaches.
Excessive beer consumption can cause dehydration and severe headaches.

There are several potential long-term effects of alcohol on the human body, especially if used in excess for extended periods of time. Cardiac issues such as high blood pressure, heart rhythm inconsistencies, and stroke are possible complications associated with alcohol use. Heart inflammation may also occur, sometimes proving fatal or requiring heart transplantation in order to save the life of the patient.

The long-term effects of alcohol can damage the heart.
The long-term effects of alcohol can damage the heart.

Liver damage is among the most common effects of alcohol on the human body. Over a period of time, excessive drinking causes the liver to stop functioning normally. This can lead to hepatitis, cirrhosis, or ruptured blood vessels. Liver failure is a leading cause of death among those with a history of alcoholism. Digestive issues such as reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, or ulcers may develop as a result of alcohol use, and a person's cancer risks significantly increase when alcohol is consumed regularly.

Pregnant women who drink alcohol run the risk of giving birth to a baby with birth defects such as those that occur in cases of fetal alcohol syndrome. Some symptoms of this condition that may be noticeable shortly after birth include organ damage, low birth weight, or a variety of facial abnormalities. Symptoms that may not become obvious until the child is older may include developmental delays, learning disabilities, or behavioral problems. Many of these problems can carry over into adulthood and may need to be treated with counseling, the use of medications, or surgical intervention, depending on the individual symptoms and overall health of the patient.

Excessive drinking can cause the liver to stop functioning normally.
Excessive drinking can cause the liver to stop functioning normally.

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