Diseases Caused by Alcohol

Since your college days, or maybe even earlier, you may have found that you have an affinity for alcoholic beverages. Perhaps you enjoy a beer every now and then, or take shots like a boss, or maybe there is never a time of day that you are not drunk. Whatever your relationship to alcohol is, you should know about the long-term effects of drinking before you continue down a path that may be harmful to you. Alcohol-related diseases can be life-threatening and have painful symptoms.

One of the more common organisms attacked by alcohol-related disease is the liver. Alcohol goes to your liver to be broken down, and if it has to break down alcohol too much, it can ever overwork itself and develop a disease. The good news is that the liver has an amazing capacity to regenerate, but again, if you push it to its limits, you can wind up with diseases like cirrhosis or alcoholic hepatitis. Women who drink heavily are more likely to get cirrhosis than men.

In the beginning stages of cirrhosis, you may not notice any symptoms. However, as the disease progresses, you may notice a loss of energy and appetite, fluctuation in weight, fever, your skin or whites of your eyes getting yellow due to jaundice, and itchy skin. These are just a few of many symptoms that may possibly develop with cirrhosis. Your doctor will likely need to diagnose your disease by blood test, biopsy, or surgery.

As unlikely as it may sound, alcoholism can also cause osteoporosis, which is a disease that can lead to fragile bones. Once you have developed osteoporosis, your likelihood of fracturing a bone increases significantly. It is possible that you may fracture a bone without even realizing that you have this disease. Like cirrhosis, you may not feel symptoms early on, but as time goes on, you may start feeling a dull pain in your bones or muscles, especially in your lower back and neck. As the disease progresses, you could start to feel much sharper pains that appear suddenly. Your doctor may choose to screen you for the disease by using a bone mineral density test. There are also many machines that can measure bone density noninvasively, and they are painless and safe to use.

While there are several diseases that can attack your body due to alcohol abuse, drunk driving is one of the worst killers of all. People who drink and drive are more likely to die in a wreck than an alcohol-related disease later on. It is a sad but true statistic that approximately 40 percent of total fatalities in the United States are related to driving and alcohol. Even sadder is the fact that people between 18 and 20 are responsible for over 10 percent of drunken driving accidents. As if that were not enough, 50 percent of holiday driving deaths are also related to alcohol, which is incredibly depressing. The best thing to do if you drink too much is to either call a cab or have a designated driver already planned ahead of time.