Alcohol-Related Medical Conditions
Alcohol-related medical conditions are some of the greatest causes for concern for long-term drinkers, especially those with dependence issues.
Common Alcohol-Related Medical Conditions
Drinking alcohol provides sedative effects that many take advantage of to rid the pain in their lives (sometimes the pain alcohol brings them). This abuse multiplies into chronic problems including broken relationships, failed careers, and what might be most detrimental- declining health. Alcohol has been linked to well over 60 diseases, playing a dangerous role in some life or death situations. Here are some of the most common serious alcohol-related medical conditions.
Hepatitis and Other Liver Diseases
Alcoholic hepatitis can be caused by excessive amounts of alcohol intake. It damages your liver, and depending on the damage, the liver could potentially stop working. If the liver shuts down, it could cause the body to become sick and cause yellowing of the eyes. Bleeding can happen rather quickly, the abdomen can become swollen, and you can even slip into a coma. After being diagnosed with alcoholic hepatitis, it is imperative that the user stops drinking before the liver shuts down completely. If the user continues to drink, they not only risk losing their liver, but can experience excessive bleeding, or cirrhosis.
Alcoholic hepatitis is not the only liver-related disease caused by alcohol use. Alcohol alone is a direct cause of alcoholic liver disease. Alcohol passes through the stomach and the small intestine to the liver which then filters out the toxins and processes the alcohol. An overabundance of alcohol can damage the liver, leaving it unable to properly do its job. As a result, fatty acids will collect in the liver, leading to alcoholic hepatitis. A buildup of fibrosis can also occur, with cirrhosis being the reason for scarring of the liver after it has been enflamed for quite some time.
Excessive alcohol consumption can cause irreversible brain damage depending on how much you drink, your age, how long you have been drinking, and family medical history. Alcohol affects the brain in the short-term by slowing speech, reaction time, and memory. Imagine how much it can affect the brain long-term if the act of excessive drinking is kept up for prolonged periods of time. With rehab, surgery, and medication, your brain may learn to function properly after brain damage from alcohol. Unfortunately, this is not the case 100% of the time.
Alcohol poisoning is one of the most serious alcohol-related medical conditions that can be caused by a single night of drinking. Alcohol poisoning in a companion can be hard to distinguish from severe intoxication, especially for those who are intoxicated themselves. However, letting your friend “sleep it off” when they are blue in the face can have deadly consequences. Binge drinking, defined as men having 5 or more drinks within 2 hours or women having 4 or more drinks within 2 hours, can quickly cause alcohol poisoning within the body. Alcohol poisoning can cause permanent brain damage, seizures, and hypothermia, all of which carry a risk of death. Learn how to spot alcohol poisoning to potentially save a life.
Symptoms can include:
- Bluish coloration of the face or pale skin
- Coldness to the touch
- Stupor- being conscious but not responsive
If you see any of these signs in a companion, do not put them to sleep; they could vomit and potentially choke if they are on their back. Do not give them coffee; their dehydrated body will only get worse. Do not try to “wake them up” with a cold shower; hypothermia is a result of alcohol poisoning, and a cold shower can make things drastically worse. Instead of trying to fix the issue on your own, take them to get medical help right away. Pumping the stomach can reverse the alcohol poisoning, while putting them to sleep may prevent them from waking up again.
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Sexually-Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
Alcohol cannot directly cause STDs; however, it plays a heavy role in the risk of catching an STD. Alcohol relaxes you and puts you at a state of mind in which confidence arises. Confidence may increase with every drink, along with your willingness to participate in activities you would have never thought to if you were sober. Many people want to feel dangerous while drinking alcohol and take higher risks – such as committing crimes or going home with a stranger to engage in sex. Both men and women are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior or become a victim of sexual assault when they are intoxicated, increasing the likelihood of developing an STD they potentially have to deal with for the rest of their lives. This includes the dreaded human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).
Severe Bodily Injury
Alcohol can substantially increase your chances of bodily harm. The most publicized and common risk is associated with drunk driving. Drunk driving is illegal and extremely dangerous with thousands of lives lost on the road every year as a result. Besides driving, alcohol brings about a sense of confidence, along with aggression, and loss of control. The term “bar fight” was coined because of the drunken disputes that often get out of hand and when participants think they can win any fight. Even if no violence is involved, alcohol makes it more likely that drinkers injure themselves accidentally in many ways. Even mild lapses can lead to severe injuries.
Get Help With Alcohol-Related Medical Conditions Now
Death can occur from excessive alcohol consumption in any of the ways mentioned above. No one drinks with intentions of developing a fatal alcohol-related medical condition, but every little sip, whether it be just on the weekends or with dinner, can bring you closer to developing these diseases and experiencing their negative consequences. If you or someone you know is addicted to alcohol, don’t wait for something to happen to finally get help. Contact an addiction specialist today, and help save a life.
Medical Reviewer — Last Reveiwed: May 20, 2019
Drinkaware. (2016). Alcohol Poisoning- Symptoms, Causes, and Effects. Retrieved on May 14th 2018 at https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/alcohol-facts/health-effects-of-alcohol/effects-on-the-body/alcohol-poisoning/
Healthline. (2017). Alcohol Hepatitis. Retrieved on May 14th 2018 at https://www.healthline.com/health/alcoholic-hepatitis#causes
Medical News Today. (2018). What’s to Know About Liver Disease? Retrieved on May 14th 2018 at https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/215638.php
NIH. (2004). Alcohol Alert. Retrieved on May 14th 2018 at https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa63/aa63.htm
NIH. (2018). HIV/AIDS. Retrieved on May 14th 2018 at https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/special-populations-co-occurring-disorders/hivaids
TDLC. (2010). Brain Myth – Brain Injury is Always Permanent. Retrieved on May 14th 2018 at http://tdlc.ucsd.edu/educators/educators_myths_brain_injury.html
Web MD. (2018). Alcohol Hepatitis. Retrieved on May 14th 2018 at https://www.webmd.com/hepatitis/what-is-alcoholic-hepatitis#1
Web MD. (2018). Liver Failure. Retrieved on May 14th 2018 at https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/digestive-diseases-liver-failure#1
Web MD. (2018). Does Your Baby Have Jaundice? Retrieved on May 14th 2018 at https://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/digestive-diseases-jaundice#1
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Alcohol in Music
Music is full of references to alcohol and even celebrates excessive drinking as a fun activity, which can promote unhealthy drinking patterns in listeners.