Most people realize that alcohol abuse (alcoholism) has physical effects; what most people don’t realize is how extreme that effect can be.
Alcoholism affects every system in our bodies over time. It decreases our ability to fight off disease, which puts us at risk for more potential harm. Many deaths related to alcohol, go unreported therefore leaving the acknowledgment of its dangers unmentioned.
Many alcoholics are aware that they are at risk for developing cirrhosis of the liver. What isn’t understood is that cirrhosis of the liver is the tenth leading cause of death. The scariest fact, though, is that often an alcoholic will see no sign of physical danger until the disease is in its advanced stages. This leaves the body in a hazardous situation because by the time the alcoholic discovers the problem, it may be too late.
There are some general physical indicators that your body is succumbing to the effects of alcohol. One sign is hand tremor. This is most often experienced during periods of alcohol withdrawal. Behaviors such as excitability, nervousness, and irritation are also very common effects of alcohol.
A more serious visible effect of alcoholism is yellowish skin. This is likely your first indicator that your liver is in extreme danger. This pigmentation is called jaundice.
Your skin may also be affected with conditions such as rosacea or forms of dermatitis. Parotid swelling is also common among alcoholics. This is because alcohol affects the salivary glands by causing them to increase saliva in a thicker form. The increase in consistency causes the salivary ducts to become blocked. The glands then swell falsely appearing as the mumps.
You may realize your blood stream has been severely affected if you develop a condition called “drumstick” disease. This typically means the alcohol has interrupted the normal flow of blood causing poor circulation which is evident in the swelling of the tips of the fingers. The obstruction of normal blood flow can also impose the risk of heart disease or other cardiovascular conditions
The gastrointestinal tract can be affected by alcoholism as well, causing an inability to digest foods properly which results in chronic nausea and/or diarrhea. This constant wear deteriorates the intestines. The pancreas is also likely to be effected because continual circumstances of poor digestion cause it to become irritated and secrete abnormally.
Alcohol also plays an important role in the bodies’ amount of insulin and sugar, causing increases or decreases which can put the body in potential danger. Alcoholism affects the respiratory system over time as well. Its direct toxic effect destroys the air sacs in the lungs that allow us to breathe.
Finally, there is an array of damage that alcohol can impose on the nervous and musculoskeletal systems. Indicators may be as small as memory loss and body aches and pains to brain damage and kidney failure.
Alcoholism is a severely life threatening disease and should be treated as nothing less. If you or a friend are suffering from alcoholism, you should seek professional addiction recovery help right away.