Alcohol and Illness

Is there a risk of drinking alcohol?

Alcohol is a socially acceptable drug, many people enjoy alcohol casually and without any second thoughts in doing so but are unaware of the damage and harm they can put themselves at risk to.

In Northern Ireland alone, alcohol-related deaths have doubled in numbers since 1994, and in the UK in 2014 there were 8,697 recorded alcohol-related deaths.

Side Effects

Alcohol creates immediate side effects that many people face every time they drink, such as nausea, dizziness, headaches and an upset stomach. Side effects worsen to vomiting, distorted vision and hearing and breathing difficulties as you increase your intake of alcohol.

Binge drinking can result in anxiety, memory loss and blackouts; Long term drinking and heavy drinking can result in serious long term side effects such as brain damage, affecting behaviour and the ability to remember, and serious mental health problems.

Alcohol has the following effect on:

  • LUNGS – you have an increased chance on getting a lung infection, suffer from collapsed lungs and a higher risk of pneumonia.
  • STOMACH –your stomach produces more acid than usual which can inflame the lining of the stomach and cause vomiting, pain and diarrhoea and in more serious cases, bleeding which all stops food from being absorbed properly
  • KIDNEYS – can result in a higher blood pressure, a leading cause of chronic kidney disease
  • WEIGHT GAIN – in a drink, alcohol contains almost as many calories as fat, consuming an excess can result in rapid weight gain
  • LIVER – Continued excessive drinking can cause the liver to become inflamed, leading to alcoholic hepatitis and then furthermore until liver failure and death.
  • HEART AND CIRCULATION – can result in higher blood pressure which increases the danger of having a heart attack or stroke and developing different type of dementia.
  • SKIN – dehydrates your body and your skin, resulting in dry, flaky appearance to skin with dull areas under and around your eyes and widened blood vessels making skin look red and/or blotchy.
  • MENTAL HEALTH – although people use alcohol as a coping mechanism and to relieve stress and anxiety, alcohol actually worsens and even creates cases of anxiety, depression, personality disorders and dangerous behaviour. The Mental Health Foundation reported that 65% of suicides are linked to an excessive consumption of alcohol, around 33% of suicides involving young people and adolescents take place when the person is under the influence of alcohol and that 70% of men who commit suicide drank alcohol before taking their life.

Your body and vital organs are all at risk when you drink alcohol regularly, are a heavy drinker, or binge drink. By gradually reducing and/or stopping your alcohol intake you can significantly decrease your chances of getting long term side effects and serious health problems.

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