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Harmful Effects of Alcohol

One blog is not sufficient to list all the Harmful Effects of Alcohol. This just goes to show how harmful this legal drug is. Most people who drink alcohol are social drinkers, in fact 88% of them are but a small minority are alcoholics and they need to stay away from it as they cannot enjoy and control at the same time. Social drinkers drink alcohol but know how much they are going to consume and even if their behavior gets changed it is minor but an alcoholic is not able to guarantee how much he is going to drink and how he is going to behave after drinking. Some change in behavior occurs even in social drinkers but in the case of an alcoholic it is quite drastic and apparent even after small quantities. As mentioned earlier, the main harmful effect of alcohol is on the liver and the condition which occurs is called cirrhosis of the liver. There are other causes of cirrhosis also but the one we are concerned is due to alcohol. It is also called Alcoholic Liver Disease. I had written about Portal Circulation and how it gets obstructed due to cirrhosis of the liver resulting in ascites. The most dangerous effect of obstruction of Portal Circulation is esophageal varices. The portal circulation and the systemic circulation interact with each other at six places. At the umbilicus, it results in caput medusae or the head of Medusa, which we know consisted of snakes. So the appearance is that of snakes underneath the skin which are nothing but coiled and tortuous blood vessels which have dilated as a result of increase in the pressure in the Portal Circulation. The systemic circulation and the portal circulation also meet at the rectum and the dilatation of blood vessels resulting from increase in pressure in portal system causes piles. At the base of the esophagus or food pipe also the portal and systemic circulations meet and this results in a very dangerous condition called esophageal varices. Varices refers to the worm like appearance on endoscopy. It really feels as if a bunch of earthworms is sitting at the base of the food pipe. When these burst it seems as if the liver has burst because the blood which comes out is clotted blood and is jelly like and the color is also like that of liver, thereby confusing people who think that pieces of liver are coming out. Whenever on endoscopy esophageal varices are seen they are banded so as to prevent them from bursting. If they burst it is an emergency and can be fatal if medical attention is not prompt and accurate. Another very dangerous combination is having difficulty in clotting of blood or coagulopathy. Along with cirrhosis it carries a very bad prognosis. The coagulation profile of the blood can be ascertained by doing a PTINR test or Prothrombin Time. There is one very important function of liver and that is activation of testosterone, the male hormone. As the name implies, it is made in the testes but reaches its active form by passing through the liver. Males are different from females because of this hormone. When there is cirrhosis of the liver, the testosterone activation is disrupted, resulting in the feminization of the males. There is testicular atrophy, loss of body hair, gynecomastia or breast formation in males and most importantly, impotence. Even in acute stages, alcohol always increases the desire for sex but decreases the performance and in chronic cases it causes impotence when the liver is affected to a great degree. The world functions because of two drives, hunger and the sex drive. Alcohol is such an insidious poison that it can affect both these drives. It can kill the appetite and finish the sexual drive totally.

All this is explained at Sahyog and that is why it is the Best De addiction Center in Delhi.

Harmful Effects of Alcohol

Like I had written earlier, 1 blog is not sufficient to list all the harmful effects of alcohol. That just goes to show how harmful alcohol is. It effects all the organ systems of the body but the main harmful effect is felt by the gastrointestinal tract and in that too liver is the organ which suffers the most. Liver is a very important organ. Besides digestion of food, clotting of blood, converting proteins to urea is all done in the liver. It is an important part of reticulo-endothelial system associated with the filtration of blood. The condition which occurs in the liver because of alcohol abuse is cirrhosis. There are other causes of cirrhosis but alcohol is the one we are concerned with. Cirrhosis has got 3 Stages. Stage 1,2, and 3. In Stage 1 there is fatty enlargement of the liver. The liver is normally behind the ribs on the right side of the body and except in very thin individuals one cannot palpate the liver. If the liver is palpable that means that it is enlarged and the doctor will write that it is enlarged by so many cms below the costal margin.Liver is associated with the fat metabolism and even a bout of single night of heavy drinking will result in fat droplets to occur in the plasma making it milky. This fat accumulates in the liver leading to fatty liver. In Stage 2 of cirrhosis of liver the structure of liver is  altered but the microscopic structure is maintained. In Stage 3 of cirrhosis of liver even the microscopic structure is damaged beyond repair. In Stage 2 if a person stops drinking the liver will heal itself but in Stage 3 even if a person stops drinking the liver will not revert to its original structure. All the blood from the intestines comes into the liver via the Portal Vein. This is called the Portal Circulation. Due to cirrhosis the pressure in the Portal system is increased resulting in accumulation of plasma in the peritoneum called ascites. The accumulation can be of many liters per day. The doctor may drain the ascitic fluid but due to the cirrhosis it accumulates again.

All this is explained at Sahyog and that is why it is the Best Rehabilitation Center in Delhi.

Rehabilitation Centre Near Me

Harmful Effects of Alcohol

Since one blog is insufficient to list all the harmful effects of alcohol this is in continuation of the previous blog. In the previous blog I had listed all the harmful effects of alcohol on the Central Nervous System. But since alcohol is drunk the most harmful effects are on the gastrointestinal tract. However, I have seen one patient who used to inject alcohol when he was unable to drink it because of vomiting, but that was an exception. Mostly alcohol is drunk, In the esophagus or food pipe it causes heartburn, which has got nothing to do with the heart but a burning sensation in the chest because of acid reflux from the stomach. Because of alcohol the cardiac sphincter of the stomach becomes loose and the acid present in the stomach is able to come into the mouth also. The lining of stomach is used to this concentrated Hydrochloric acid but the lining of the food pipe is not and it literally gets burnt as a result of the acid reflux causing pain in the chest called heartburn. There may be sour eructations also present. Because of vomiting alcohol can also cause Mallory Weiss Syndrome which is nothing but a tear in the mucosa of the food pipe and is a medical emergency. In the stomach, it causes an increase in the secretion of Hydrochloric acid. In fact to diagnose acholorydia – a condition in which there is a congenital absence of the secretion of Hydrochloric acid, a little alcohol is given through the nasogastric tube to ascertain the diagnosis. The increased acid may cause gastritis.  Small quantities of alcohol increase the appetite but large quantities can suppress it totally. Some alcoholics only drink and I frequently see patients who have not eaten for days. The next main organ to suffer from the harmful effects of alcohol is the pancreas. Pancreas are an important organ of digestion and glucose metabolism. It has an endocrine part which secrete insulin and glucagon and an exocrine part which secretes digestive juices to digest proteins and fats. Acute pancreatitis is a very painful condition and one of the main causes is alcohol intake. It is not dose dependent,i.e., if a person is a heavy drinker it is not that it is more likely to occur. It can occur even in moderate drinkers. Repeated attacks of acute pancreatitis can lead to chronic pancreatitis which can lead to diabetes due to the scarring of the pancreas. There is a condition called acute hemorrhagic pancreatitis in which the pancreas burst and all the secretions go into the abdomen. It is the most painful condition known to medical science. The digestive juices of the pancreas start digesting the lining of the abdomen from inside. It is as if a piece of metal is being eaten by acid corrosion. It is a medical emergency in which the pain is the most important feature. On a scale of 1-10, if the pain of a lady giving birth for the first time is 9 then the pain of acute hemorrhagic pancreatitis is 10. The pain is so severe that the person goes into shock because of the pain itself. Alcohol can cause or aggravate IBS, i.e., irritable bowel syndrome. IBS is a chronic and debilitating disease which can be quite uncomfortable. But the organ most affected by alcohol intake is the liver. Liver is a very important organ doing a lot of functions which are essential for good health. It is a well known fact that the liver of alcoholics gets affected in a bad way. You don’t have to be a doctor to know that. But liver has tremendous capacity to heal itself also. If in a healthy person you cut off the entire liver and leave a matchbox size portion, it will grow back, provided you don’t insult it on a daily basis by drinking alcohol. The condition which occurs in liver because of drinking is called cirrhosis. There are many causes of cirrhosis but alcoholic liver disease is chief cause of cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is a morphological diagnosis, that is to say, the diagnosis is made by observing the liver. In olden days dead bodies were dissected to know about the anatomy of the body and its parts. They found that the liver of alcoholics was gnarled and lumpy and in many cases shrunk. These days we make the diagnosis ultrasonically.

All this is done in detailed medical inputs at Sahyog and that is why it is the Best Rehabilitation Center in Delhi.

Substance Abuse Counselor

Harmful Effects of Alcohol

Alcohol has so many Harmful Effects that 1 blog is not sufficient for it. Alcohol is a legal drug that has been causing so much grief for so many people around the world. Everybody who drinks is not an alcoholic,  in fact if 100 people drink, on average only 12 are alcoholics; rest are social drinkers. An alcoholic is a person who is not able to guarantee how much he is going to drink or who cannot guarantee his behavior after drinking. People generally know how much they are going to drink but an alcoholic has no brakes and is not able to stop. They do not get into trouble every time they drink but every time they get into trouble they have been drinking. Whether it is fights, brawls, disagreements at home, legal trouble, the list is endless. The behavior of every person changes a little bit after drinking alcohol but in an alcoholic the change is quite stark. Most people become garrulous, jovial or in some case even maudlin but the alcoholics can become antisocial too.

Now let us discuss what deleterious effects alcohol has on the human body. Let us start by the harmful effects on the Central Nervous System. The Central Nervous System consists of the brain and spinal cord. The first and most apparent effect is loosening of inhibitions. There is sort of brake in our prefrontal cortex part of the brain which stops us from doing stupid things like using abusive language in front of elders, looking left and right before crossing a road etc. Even with small quantities of  alcohol this brake is removed. Because of this a person may seem more excited than usual, whereas it is a known fact that alcohol is a depressant and slows down the neuronal activity. A person under the influence looses his inhibitions and may end up doing things he would not even imagine doing in a sober state. The next harmful effect of alcohol is seen on the memory. Both short term and long term memory is affected. Some times the alcoholic comes out of a black out without any remembrance of the previous night. He may not even remember how and when he got home and what all he said at the party. Alcohol directly effects the nerve cells by killing them but memory is not a function of the number of neurons, in fact it is a function of the connections between the nerve cells. Due to this fact the memory deficit can be overcome by doing mental and memory exercises, but the loss of neurons may lead to cerebral atrophy, which is a common finding in alcoholics who are growing old. Next harmful effect of alcohol is very interesting, the damage is caused by drinking but the effect is not seen until the person stops drinking. Till the time he is drinking he is fine but on stopping alcohol he may develop Wernicke’s Encephalopathy or Korsakoff’s Psychosis. These two conditions are named after the people who first described it. Earlier they were thought to be different diseases but now they are considered to be two ends of the same spectrum. The main cause is Thiamine deficiency and in Wernicke’s Encephalopathy the persons brain becomes soft and is also called ‘wet brain’. In Korsakoff’s  Psychosis the person has visual and auditory hallucinations and may be delirious. Luckily the effects are reversible with medication, otherwise they may even be fatal. The next harmful effect of alcohol on the CNS is the effect it has on reflexes of the person. The reflexes become slow. That is why the old adage that don’t drink and drive. One can devise an experiment on a simulator where a person slams on the brake after seeing a child on the screen in front. After drinking even legally permissible quantities of alcohol the time is greatly increased. The next harmful effect of alcohol is on the secretion of anti diuretic hormone. It suppresses its secretion. Anti diuretic hormone is secreted by posterior pituitary gland. As a result, the person urinates more after drinking alcohol.

All this is explained at Sahyog and that is why it is the Best Rehabilitation Center in Delhi.