April 17, 2007
Alcohol And Health Problems
Think alcohol is harmless? Think again. Now, let’s not get excited. Not all drinking is a problem. Consuming copious amounts of alcohol can indeed be dangerous.
Combining alcohol with many drugs, prescription and over-the-counter, can be problematic. This practice can be dangerous, especially if combined with driving or the operation of heavy machinery.
Any woman who may be pregnant or hopes to become pregnant will want to avoid the consumption of alcohol. Drinking while pregnant can cause serious birth defects. Many of these birth defects are irreversible and will cause difficulties for the child for the rest of his or her life.
Fetal alcohol syndrome is the most serious of these birth defects. Children born with FAS may have physical, behavioral and emotional problems. Scientists do not know how much alcohol a pregnant woman can drink before a baby is affected with FAS so the best plan is to avoid all alcohol during pregnancy.
The above problems may be associated with periods of short-term drinking. Many other health issues may arise when alcohol is misused over a longer period of time.
Liver disease is often an alcohol-related disease. More than 2 million people living in the United States have problems with liver disease that is a result of drinking over a long period of time. The symptoms can include jaundice, abdominal pain, and fever. If a person does not stop drinking, alcoholic hepatitis can cause death but if the drinking ceases, there is a chance that the condition can be reversed.
10 to 20 percent of people who drink heavily develop alcoholic cirrhosis. This is an ailment that scars the liver and if a person suffers from it, he or she should not drink alcohol at all. There is treatment for this condition but a liver transplant may be needed for someone with life-threatening cirrhosis. Death may occur if the drinking continues. Cirrhosis is not reversible but if the person stops drinking, the chances for survival will improve.
The chance for some types of cancer increases for those who drink heavily for a long period of time. Cancer of the throat, mouth, esophagus and voice box are types of cancer that may occur at higher rates in those who abuse alcohol over a long period of time.
Heart disease is another condition that may develop when a person drinks too much alcohol for too many years. High blood pressure and some kinds of stroke are other problems that may occur in people who abuse alcohol.
Long-term drinking may lead to pancreatitis. Inflammation of the pancreas can cause severe abdominal pain and it can be fatal if it reaches the acute stage. Chronic pancreatitis may result in weight loss, chronic pain and diarrhea.
Anyone who drinks heavily for short or long periods of time may develop any of these problems. Guard your health and watch the amount of alcohol you consume on a regular basis.