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Medical Conditions That Can Be Caused by Alcoholism

Medical Conditions That Can Be Caused by Alcoholism

Knowing the potential effects of alcohol on health can provide strong motivation to seek professional help

Alcohol abuse stresses the body and can lead to the development of serious medical conditions, but most of these effects can be reversed once alcohol consumption stops. Knowing about the potential long-term effects of alcohol on health can provide strong motivation to seek professional help, end alcohol abuse and regain physical health.

Alcoholism and the Liver

Alcohol is most famous for its damage to the liver. The liver is responsible for breaking down alcohol and removing it from the body, and when more alcohol is consumed than can be processed, the liver is injured or damaged. This damage can lead to one of the following alcohol-related liver diseases:

  • Fatty liver disease
  • Alcoholic hepatitis
  • Alcoholic cirrhosis

Since the liver is essential for turning food into energy and nutrients, a damaged or diseased liver affects all aspects of health and function. Fatty liver disease is the first stage in the development of alcoholic hepatitis or cirrhosis, and it leaves individuals feeling lethargic or weak. Alcoholic hepatitis causes the liver to swell and results in nausea, pain and jaundice. Severe alcoholic hepatitis can result in liver failure and death, but all stages of the disease can be treated and early stages can be completely reversed. Alcoholic cirrhosis occurs when scarred liver tissue replaces healthy liver tissue and has similar effects on health as alcoholic hepatitis, although the effects of cirrhosis are not reversible. Ending alcohol consumption ends liver damage and stops the progression of all three potential alcoholism-related liver diseases.

Alcoholism and the Heart

While some argue that a drink or two is good for the heart, alcohol abuse and addiction have directly the opposite effect. Long-term heart risks associated with drinking include the following:

  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Arrythmias
  • Hypertension

Cardiomyopathy refers to any disease that prevents the heart from contracting effectively. Alcoholic cardiomyopathy, caused by overconsumption, reduces the ability of the heart to get blood to the body, and this can damage tissue and organs or lead to heart failure. Arrythmias refer to irregular heart rate patterns. Binge drinking and long-term drinking affect the heart’s pace, and this can disrupt normal heart function. Arrythmias can induce blood clots or cause too little blood to be fed to the brain and body. Hypertension is high blood pressure. Alcohol consumption stiffens blood vessels so that pressure increases within them and also triggers the release of hormones that constrict vessels. Cardiomyopathy, arrythmias and hypertension all damage health on their own, and all contribute to the likelihood of stroke.

Ending the Health Risks of Alcoholism

If you are ready to regain your physical health and take back control of your body and mind, call our toll-free helpline. Our admissions coordinators are here 24 hours a day to help you find the resources you need for a complete, long-term recovery from alcoholism and its effects.