When consumed in low to moderate quantities, alcohol may actually provide a number of health benefits: it can lower your bad cholesterol, boost your good cholesterol, improve your coronary blood flow, decrease your risk for diabetes, and reduce your risk of dementia. However, if you drink too much, the benefits would turn into health risks. Below are some of the possible health conditions that could result from persistent heavy drinking.
Excessive drinking and depression is similar to the chicken-and-egg conundrum: which caused what? Depressed people may turn to alcohol to comfort themselves but according to several studies, it’s the drinking that causes the depression. Backing this up is research indicating that the depression actually eases when chronic drinkers abstain from alcohol.
Over-consumption of alcohol leads to liver diseases like cirrhosis, fatty liver, and alcoholic hepatitis. Fatty liver can strike after consuming moderate to excessive amounts of booze, although it can also start after only a few days of excess drinking. Symptoms include weakness, fatigue, nausea, weight loss, impaired judgment, difficulty concentrating, and loss of appetite.
Alcoholic hepatitis, on the other hand, retains large quantities of fluid in your abdomen, and causes kidney and liver failure. About 35 per cent of chronic heavy drinkers get alcoholic hepatitis.
Perhaps the scariest of these conditions is cirrhosis, which turns healthy liver tissues into scar tissue. Because of this, the liver is eventually prevented from working properly. Women, in particular, are vulnerable to this condition. Cirrhosis symptoms include liver enlargement, jaundice, loss of appetite, itchiness of the skin, edema, fever, and blood in the stool.
If your joints–particularly the base of your big toe–are swollen, tender, and are in severe pain, then you probably have gout. While the condition is caused by the formation of uric acid crystals in your joints, over-consumption of alcohol oddly exacerbates it.
The World Health Organization has classified alcohol as a carcinogen (i.e. a substance that can cause cancer). Alcohol can cause cancer in the esophagus, pharynx, mouth, colon, breast, and liver. If you combine alcohol over-consumption with tobacco use, the risk of cancer increases further.
Excessive consumption of alcohol can increase the risk of stroke and the progression of atherosclerosis–a condition where fats accumulate on the inner walls of the arteries. The advance of the disease is said to have increased in men who took more than six drinks in one occasion. The stroke risk, on the other hand, went up among men who had more than one hangover per year.
Research also reveals that alcohol abuse is linked to higher blood pressure, especially if three or more drinks are consumed daily. This can eventually lead to chronic hypertension, which can cause other medical conditions like cardiovascular disease and kidney disease.
Over-consumption of alcohol is one of the leading causes of pancreatitis, a disease where the pancreas becomes inflamed. The condition can either be acute or chronic, although their symptoms are similar. Indications include fever, vomiting, nausea, a swollen abdomen, and an increased heart rate. The difference? Diabetes could develop if pancreas cells that produce insulin get damaged.