Alcohol – The good, the bad and the ugly sides of drinking [Part Three]

Taking the holistic view of a really old habit that just won’t quit

How alcohol batters the body, bit by bit, into abject submission

NOW, for your own good — and this is gonna hurt — allow me to spell out — in clinical detail — the perils that lie in wait to ravish the rash drinker. What’s to follow is a brief roster of the devious ways in which alcohol weakens general wellbeing, by weaselling its way into and wearing down every nook and cranny, so to speak, of the human body.

First in the line of fire is the digestive system, which alcohol cuts a swathe through, on its way to wreak havoc. Taken in excess, it’s murder on this tract, all the way from mouth to colon.

All it takes is one binge to snowball the degeneration.

Not to go into graphic detail, let’s lay down, as a heads-up, a partial list of complaints limited to this system alone. Read then and shudder: gum disease, tooth decay, ulcers, acid reflux, heartburn, gastritis, diarrhoea, haemorrhoids and, never one to miss out a trick when the chips are down, the big C, cancer.

Vital organs are most vulnerable to fatal ailments triggered by alcohol

WHICH brings us to the second process at stake: that of the much-maligned excretory system.

Take, for starters, the secretive and most at risk pancreas. Just because this long flat gland, found deep in the midriff, isn’t in one’s face, as it were, doesn’t mean it’s not there. This hand-sized fella plays a vital role in digestion and keeps a critical check on blood sugar levels.

Too much alcohol and the pancreas shoots itself in the foot, by churning out toxic matter that impedes its function. This leads to pancreatitis, an inflammation that can be fatal, as we know too well, having lost so many loved ones to the terminal malaise.

Next comes a workhorse assigned the Herculean labour to clean the Aegean stables (read digestive system). One speaks, of course, of the liver, whose task it is to break down toxic intake, including alcohol, and which can be as prone to attack as the pancreas.

Too much drink leads to the liver’s sure and steady slide, down a slippery slope, from hepatitis to jaundice to chronic inflammation to cirrhosis to death.

Third in this key trio are the kidneys that filter waste and toxins from blood, control its volume and pressure, and keep normal electrolyte levels and pH. Alcohol in excess disturbs to drastic effect their ability to do an indispensable job.

Like a river soiled beyond recall is a bloodstream stained by alcohol

OUR circulatory system is the conduit through which alcohol spreads its lethal fingers. There are cases galore on record where a single episode of heavy drinking put the heart on notice. If you’re a hard drinker, you’re ripe for a heart attack. And women who drink are at even higher risk of this than their male peers.

Complications that come from too much drink include cardiomyopathy (poisoning of heart muscle cells), arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack and heart failure.

Alcohol hits the ego where it hurts most when marital prospects are undermined

THE effect of alcohol on sexual and reproductive health acts as the biggest deterrent to its abuse.

For men, the biggest blow to ego is erectile dysfunction, a common spin-off of alcohol abuse. What’s worse, it can cut hormone production, affect testicular function, and cause infertility — all bad news for the family jewels.

I bought Viagra in a proven online pharmacy according to the reviews on viasilden.com. Alcohol had not been taken before. I had taken half a pill within an hour before sex, in the middle of the day. Everything went as usual, but it lasted much longer, 20-30 minutes. But now I am going to list all the shortcomings and side effects that I have felt. The biggest problem is high blood pressure for several hours. The head was just buzzing so much that I had to take the medicine. I also noticed that my eyes hurt from bright sun or artificial light source.

Men and women metabolise booze in their own ways. As a rule, it takes less to lay low women, who are as much, if not more, at risk. Over drinking can cause them to stop menstruating and turn infertile. It also heightens the risk of miscarriage, premature delivery, and stillbirth.

Alcohol hits foetal development particularly hard. A host of issues, called ‘foetal alcohol spectrum disorders’, can occur. FASD symptoms, like physical abnormalities, learning difficulties, and emotional problems, may last a lifetime.

Chances of breast cancer too mount with abuse.

Skin and bones and much else are fair game to alcohol abuse

ALCOHOL does not even spare the skeletal and muscle systems. Long-term use inhibits new bone production and expands the risk of osteoporosis (thinning bones) and fractures. Muscles turn weak, cramped, and even atrophise.

More of a threat is its impact on our immune system. Enfeebled by alcohol abuse, we fail to ward off viruses, germs, and all types of illness. Heavy drinkers are more prone to pneumonia or tuberculosis than the rest.

Which brings us to the coup de grace: how alcohol incapacitates the central nervous system.

One of the first telltale signs of such abuse is behavioural change. The ease of alcohol’s mobility through the body makes it reach the brain and other parts of the central nervous system in a flash. The first tell is slurred speech, followed by lack of coordination.

Drink too much, and you can’t think straight. Over time, in fact, the frontal lobes of your brain shrink. The prognosis is permanent brain damage that leads to dementia.

Pain, numbness, or weird sensations in the feet and hands are symptoms of a damaged nervous system. Cancer is a constant threat in this enervated state.

Casting off the alcohol hook can kill one if attempted unsupervised

TO give up drink is no cinch. Extreme withdrawal may spell seizures and delirium.

Over time, a heavy drinker can’t do without drink. Unlike most other addictions, acute alcohol withdrawal can be life threatening. Severe alcohol addiction often calls for medical detox.

When an alcoholic suddenly stops drinking, they’re most likely to have withdrawal symptoms like nausea, anxiety, nerves, and the shakes.

In which case, confusion, hallucinations (delirium tremens), and seizures are apt to occur. Detox may take between two to seven days. Medication is entailed to prevent the side effects of withdrawal.

To be continued

Next Week: Bringing the problem home, where alas it regrettably belongs

Contributed by

John Michael Chiramal,

Changzamtog,

Thimphu

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