Last updated: March 1, 2017

Effects of alcohol on the body

Effects of alcohol on the body: An overview

Effects of alcohol on the body can produce long term health problems in addition to acute intoxication. The long term effects of alcohol on the body mainly result from damages to such organs as brain and liver. The short term effects of alcohol on the body is mainly from acute poisoning or intoxication. Although the short terms effects of alcohol on the body may be described as a pleasant sensation by most people, it can result in poisoning and even death when consumed by someone unable to control the amount of drinking.

Effects of alcohol on the body

Image courtesy of: National Kidney & Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC)

Everyone who drinks alcohol feels some effect of alcohol on the brain. Psychologist and  psychiatrists have studied these effect of alcohol in the brain in detail. Although most people feel somewhat excited and energized when they start to drink alcohol, the main effects of alcohol on the brain is inhibitory. Alcohol acts as a sedative on the brain. The main reason people feel the effects of alcohol on the brain as an excitement is because alcohol seems to selectively inhibit the higher centers of the brain first. The higher center of the brain is the part which always makes you think twice before you do anything. The lower centers are mainly concerned with basic animal instinct and instant gratification instead of long term thinking. In most people, the higher center usually keeps tab on the lower centers and do not allow lower centers to make any decision without input from the higher centers. This is why effects of the alcohol on the brain feel like excitement and stimulation to the person when the part of brain dealing with animal instincts is liberated at the cost of impaired judgement and thinking.

As the amount of alcohol in the blood in the blood goes up, the effects of alcohol on the body involves more organ systems. The exact effects of alcohol on the body depend upon the level of tolerance the person has developed for alcohol. The acute effects of alcohol on the body can be very dangerous and life treating when someone consumes a large amount of alcohol for the first time. We often hear about deaths from alcohol poisoning in young teenagers or college kids who were drinking for the first time. The short term effects of alcohol on the body may not be as severe on someone who is a habitual heavy drinker. Habitual heavy drinkers need to be more concerned about the long term effects of alcohol on the body.

The most concerning long term effects of alcohol on the body is alcoholic liver disease. Drinking heavy amounts of alcohol on a regular basis can cause irreparable damage on the liver and may lead to alcoholic cirrhosis. But the long terms effects of alcohol on the body are not very predictable. Some people develop liver disease with relatively short period of heavy drinking while it may take several decades in other people. What exactly influences the susceptibility to liver disease from long terms effects of alcohol on the body is still not very clear but genetic factors and biochemical composition of the individual’s liver seem to play some role.



Real cases of effects of alcohol on the body based on actual patient stories:

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