Health Problems Associated with Heavy Drinkers
If you think that the worst thing about a big night of drinking is the next day’s hangover, you’re taking a very short-term view of things. The truth is that chronic heavy drinking produces a large number of health problems.
Heavy drinking lowers your red blood cell count, which causes anemia. Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout your body. When red blood cells are depleted, oxygen levels go down. Anemia leaves you feeling chronically fatigued, with shortness of breath, poor concentration and symptoms of heart failure.
Drinkers often want to feel happier and more relaxed. But drinking a lot can lead to depression. You don’t drink yourself out of the blues, but you can drink yourself into them.
High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the measure of the blood’s ability to pass freely through blood vessels. Heavy drinking makes vessels less elastic, causing pressure to rise. Left untreated high blood pressure can lead to heart disease, heart attack, stroke, kidney damage, erectile dysfunction, memory loss and more.
Copious amounts of alcohol can suppress the immune system, meaning bacteria that your body would normally fight off instead can make you ill. Heavy drinkers are more susceptible to infections and communicable diseases, including sexually transmitted disease due to high-risk sex, which often accompanies heavy alcohol consumption.
Binge drinking and heavy drinking can cause a nerve damage condition called alcoholic neuropathy, which can cause numbness in your extremities, incontinence, constipation, muscle weakness and erectile dysfunction.
Gout is the painful build-up of uric acid around joints. Alcohol can aggravate existing gout or lead to the condition.
It’s normal to experience a certain amount of diminished brain function with age due to brain shrinkage, but people who drink heavily experience faster shrinkage than normal. This can mean dementia symptoms like frustrating memory loss, impaired judgment and lowered executive function.
When a person engages in long-term heavy drinking their blood platelets may clot, increasing risk of stroke and heart attack. Large alcohol intake can also cause heart muscles to weaken, a condition known as cardiomyopathy.
Drinking heavily raises your cancer risk. As alcohol is processed in the body, it’s converted to acetaldehyde, which may be a cancer-causing agent. Heavy drinkers are more at risk for these cancers: throat, mouth, esophagus, voice box, breast, liver and colorectal.
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