Consult a Doctor

10 Side Effects of Too Much Alcohol on the Body

Last updated: ,
10 mins,
Public Health Writer | Medical Researcher | Lifestyle blogger
a man pouring win into some glasses

Excessive alcohol consumption is the use of alcohol in such a way that puts your body’s safety at risk or initiates other alcohol-related problems. If you are wondering what the effects of too much alcohol on the body are, this article is for you.

Drinking too much alcohol can result in physical and mental well-being challenges for anyone over some time.

KEY POINTS:

  • Excessive drinking of alcohol involves incessant drinking of alcohol even though you are aware of the disadvantages.  
  • Drinking alcohol can lead to short-term and long-term side effects, such as slurred speech, less cognitive function, liver problems, kidney and brain function distortion.    
  • Taking too much alcohol can cause a strain on physical, social and financial, and work relationships.
  • The best way to get help if you have a drinking problem is to Talk to an Alcohol Expert Doctor on KompleteCare.

An individual of legal drinking age should consume fewer alcoholic beverages because drinking less is better for your health than drinking more. You should abstain from drinking alcohol if you are:

·         Under the age of 18.

·         Diagnosed with certain medical conditions.

·         Pregnant or planning to get pregnant.

·         On certain medications that require abstinence from alcohol.

·         Driving or planning to take part in events that require alertness, coordination and skills.

This article explores the side effects of driniking too much alcohol on your body, brain, and emotional health. We also provide some tips on seeking support if you are planning on cutting back on alcohol consumption.

How much alcohol is too much?

effects of too much alcohol on the body
Credit: iStock

The medical guideline stipulates that moderate intake of alcohol in a day equals 2 drinks or less for men and one drink or less for women.

Excessive drinking will involve a man drinking more than five bottles of alcoholic drinks within two hours or a female drinking more than three bottles within two hours.

However, you should note that there are no safe quantities of alcohol drinking; even moderate drinking can pose an adverse impact on brain health.

Short-Term Side Effects of Alcohol on the Body

A. Impaired Coordination and Balance

You will not feel the impact of alcohol on your body instantly; but its impact begins from the very first sip. In other words, in a short time, you will experience loss of coordination, changes in perception and vision, headache and impulsive behaviour.

B.    Slurred Speech and Impaired Cognitive Function

Slurred speech may occur after a few alcoholic drinks, which is a sign of intoxication. Slurred speech occurs since alcohol can distort signals between your brain and body.

The reduced communication between your brain and body due to alcohol intake should be one of the main reasons to avoid operating certain machines after drinking because your cognitive functionalities are not coordinated and you are far from thinking clearly or making rational choices.

 C. Hangovers and Dehydration

Dehydration-related impacts may develop such as headache, nausea, vomiting and dizziness after drinking. This can be dependent on how much alcohol you consume, what you drink and if you had some water.

These side effects might be short-term but their effects can cause serious mishap, injuries, and choices you may regret later.

Long-Term Side Effects too much Alcohol on the Body

effects of too much alcohol on the body
Credit: deposit photos

The effects of drinking too much alcohol can cause long-term concerns that could be beyond your immediate mood and health. Long-term side effects of drinking too much alcohol are:  

1. Liver Damage or Liver Disease

Alcohol is a toxin and it is the job of your liver to eradicate it from your body. Drinking too much alcohol can lead to chronic alcohol-related diseases such as liver damage, cirrhosis or disease.  Each of these is life-threatening as they cause toxins and bodily waste to build up in your body.  

2. Cardiovascular Problems

Alcohol consumption can aggravate blood clots and the constant increase of fats and cholesterol levels in your body. These conditions prevent the healthy flow and pumping of blood to your heart, resulting in heart diseases.

3. Gastrointestinal Issues and Gastritis

Chronic drinking could cause gastrointestinal issues where the lining of your body’s intestines is perforated and cannot absorb essential vitamins and minerals from food, thereby causing anaemia and fatigue. Anaemia is a health condition that involves a low level of red blood cell count in your body.

4. Impact on the Immune System

Chronic drinking reduces your body’s immune system. This can make you fall sick more often. Your immune cells cannot fight and flush out viruses and bacteria, thereby causing major organ damage in your body. The probability of you developing pneumonia or tuberculosis is high if you are a heavy drinker as studies show that a significant percentage of all tuberculosis cases in the world are attributed to too much drinking of alcohol.

The risk of developing cancer can be linked to one of the effects of drinking too much alcohol. Habitual consumption of alcoholic beverages can elevate your chances of developing liver, colon, throat, and breast cancer.

READ ALSO:

·        6 Ways your Cellphone is Affecting your Health

·        Practical Ways to Keep your Liver Healthier

·        Why it is Important to Drink Water after Sex

5. Increased Risk of Mental Health Disorders (Depression, Anxiety)

An increase in mental health disorders can be linked to long-term alcohol consumption. Constant drinking of alcohol can affect your general mental and emotional well-being. It can also cause brain nerve damage, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and dementia.  

6. Development of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a condition that involves the inability to control the amount of alcohol you drink and continuing to drink alcohol even though it negatively affects your daily life activities. AUD can arise from factors such as stress, binge drinking, anxiety, peers, and schizophrenia.

Drinking excessively could also lead to alcohol dependence in the sense that your brain and body become very familiar with the after-effects of alcohol intake. 

Alcohol dependence and tolerance are signs of alcohol use disorder (alcoholism). Alcohol use disorder can be mild, moderate or severe and can depend on the symptoms you are experiencing. Symptoms such as:

·         Alcohol cravings

·         Inability to quit drinking even when you try

·         Drinking more and indulging more in alcohol-related activities

·         Inability to quit even when your health is deteriorating due to chronic drinking.

Effects of too much alcohol on the Body Organs and Systems

Drinking too much alcohol can have a toll on your vital body organs. To maintain a healthy living, you need your vital organs functioning optimally, so any adverse issue with any of them can become life-threatening.  

·  Brain and Nervous System

The brain is your body’s control centre and the core of your nervous system. Alcohol can in the long run cause dysfunction of your nervous system. This condition normally manifests in your feet and hands as numbness and tingling sensations.

The effects of drinking too much alcohol can be seen in difficulty to make speech and mental coordination which gives rise to slurred speech and poor reasoning reaction time balance.

Research has shown that drinking too much alcohol can cause damage to your frontal lobe, which is the aspect of the brain in charge of executive functions such as decision-making, social relationships, abstract reasoning and productivity.

Permanent brain damage such as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is a side effect of too much drinking of alcohol

· Heart and Cardiovascular System

Too much drinking can adversely affect your heart, thereby increasing your potential risk of having cardiovascular-related conditions. The heart-related conditions you can develop from drinking too much alcohol may include:

·         Arrhythmias (Irregular heartbeat)

·         Stroke

·         High blood pressure

·         Heart attack

·         Heart failure

·  Liver and Digestive System

Your liver functions are essential for the optimal abstraction of toxins and detrimental substances such as alcohol from your body. Nonetheless, long-term alcohol consumption hinders liver functions and thus gives rise to liver-related illness and chronic liver inflammation.

The effects of drinking too much alcohol on the digestive system will most likely manifest after the damage has occurred. These effects could manifest in states such as bloating, diarrhoea, ulcers, and gas. Drinking too much alcohol can also damage tissues in your digestive tract, making food digestion and nutrient absorption difficult to achieve. Malnutrition can emanate from these conditions and continuing to indulge in alcohol can aggravate the situation.

·   Pancreas and Endocrine System

Inflammation of the pancreas and endocrine system are among the effects of drinking too much alcohol. Inflammation of the pancreas is known as pancreatitis and this condition can set off the secretion of pancreatic digestive enzymes which causes abdominal pain and some serious complications.

Pancreatitis can cause deficiency in your liver functions and make you experience hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

· Kidneys and Urinary System

Excessive drinking of alcohol can cause detrimental effects on your kidneys disrupting the hormonal control mechanisms that coordinate kidney function. The side effects can also result in impaired sodium, fluid handling and acute kidney failure.

How too much Alcohol affects your Mental Health

When you drink alcohol excessively, your impulse control, emotion, personality and mood can be affected. Some mental health symptoms that arise from alcohol consumption according to mental health professionals are Alcohol-induced- :

·         bipolar disorder

·         psychotic disorder

·         depressive disorder

·         Sleep disorder

These illnesses are associated with signs of alcohol addiction or withdrawal. However, when you quit drinking alcohol most of these symptoms are reduced or if possible stopped.

What to do when you Drink too much Alcohol

Hormonal birth control method 17
Credit: Canva

Some individuals with AUD are not aware they have this problem and they are reluctant to seek help.

If you are concerned that your frequent drinking is putting strain on your social, financial and family relationships, then try talking to a health professional.

How to drink responsibly

If you can, abstain from consuming alcoholic beverages. However, if you must drink alcohol, it is wise to indulge responsibly. Ensure you do not mix your alcoholic beverages with caffeine as caffeine can minimize the depressant impacts of alcohol, thereby making you drink more than you should. Give your body time to process the alcohol; do not drink too fast to allow your liver to process the alcohol adequately. Remember to drink enough water and eat a balanced diet before taking alcohol.

References

Epstein, M. (1997). Alcohol’s impact on kidneys.

Mayo Clinic. (2022). Alcohol use disorder.

Pietrangelo, A., & Raypole, C. (2023). What are the effects of alcohol on the body?

Slivinski, N. (2023). Health risks of chronic heavy drinking.

Share this article on social media:

LinkedIn Instagram Facebook Twitter
Catherine Umenze

Catherine Umenze is a South Africa-based freelance health writer and researcher with an exemplary skill in content editing. Her passion lies in making complex health information easier to understand. Catherine's areas of expertise include psychology, fitness, nutrition and sexual health.

time is money flier
Untitled 1 1

Subscribe to our Blog

We publish helpful posts every week!