How the Physical Effects of Alcohol Abuse Can Permanently Change Your Body
You might enjoy alcohol because it makes you feel good and lessens the stresses of your everyday life. However, what you don’t realize is just how stressful drinking excessively can be on your body. The physical effects of alcohol abuse can drastically alter who you are and how you function. Without even realizing it, you might transform from a healthy adult into a decrepit and aged alcoholic.
Losing Sensation Because of Alcoholic Neuropathy
Your body is made up of nerve pathways that help you feel sensations like pain, pressure, and more. If you drink heavily for many years, you may begin to develop alcoholic neuropathy. In this disease, your nerves are poisoned, causing them to function poorly in certain extremities. Symptoms can include numbness in your arms and legs, having a pins and needles feeling, chronic muscle spasms, impotence, or urinary issues.
Unfortunately, because physical damage is done to the nerves, alcoholic neuropathy is usually permanent. However, by getting help from a doctor, you can manage symptoms and have a better quality of life.
Development of Chronic Nutritional Deficiency
Drinking heavily and for a long period of time wreaks havoc on your digestive system. Many alcoholics suffer from problems with absorption in the small intestine, meaning that certain vital nutrients cannot be absorbed into the body. For example, many alcoholics suffer from a lack of vitamin A, which can cause night blindness or vitamin D, which can cause the bones to soften.
Combined with the lack of calories or nutrients in alcohol as well as vomiting and diarrhea, these stomach issues lead to nutritional deficiency. This can cause a thin, haggard appearance that looks unhealthy and unsightly.
Shrinking Muscles and a Lack of Energy
Alcohol-induced muscle disease is the most common skeletal muscle disorder in the developed world, affecting every 2,000 out of 100,000 people. Over time, it affects 40 to 60 percent of alcoholics and can include any disorder in which the muscles begin wasting away, such as alcoholic myopathy or the more serious Wenicke-Korsakoff syndrome. With these disorders, muscle tissue begins to disappear, leading to a loss of strength and vitality. You may feel more tired and less able to complete physical tasks that were once a breeze.
Changes in the Hormonal Balance
Hormones play a huge role in the way your body runs. Unfortunately, chronic alcohol use drastically disrupts the delicate balance of hormones in your body. For example, most men have small levels of estrogen in their bodies. However, long-term, heavy alcohol consumption can lead to an overabundance of this female hormone, causing them to develop certain feminine physical characteristics like breasts.
Alcohol can also lead to infertility in both sexes by impairing the function of the testes in men and disrupting a woman’s menstruation cycle.
Poor Skin Quality and Disease
Because your body does not get the nutrients it needs when you drink heavily for a long time, you will begin to suffer from unsightly skin conditions. Alcohol has been linked to the development of a number of skin problems, such as psoriasis, jaundice, hyperpigmentation, flushing, and ulcerations.
Even worse, alcohol might be a catalyst in the development of certain types of skin carcinomas. Research has shown that if a person has already had skin cancer and consumes heavy quantities of alcohol, their risk of contracting another carcinoma of the skin doubles.
While the physical effects of alcohol abuse might sound scary, just remember that it’s never too late to get help. Contact our alcohol abuse hotline at 800-481-6965 (Who Answers?) for assistance in your recovery. We’re here to help you along every step of the way. The earlier you put an end to your excessive drinking, the quicker you can go back to living a healthy and active life.