Are you eager to know the damaging effect alcohol does to the brain?
If yes then this message is for you.
Alcohol begins to affect a person’s brain as soon as it goes into the bloodstream.
In a healthy person, the liver quickly filters alcohol, helping the body to get rid of the drug.
Interestingly, when a person drinks excessively, the liver cannot filter alcohol fast enough and this causes immediate changes in the brain.
Over time, too much alcohol consumption can damage both the brain and liver, causing lasting damage.
Excessive alcohol consumption can have long-lasting effects on neurotransmitters in the brain, decreasing their effectiveness or even mimicking them.
Alcohol also destroys brain cells and contracts brain tissue. People who have a history of heavy alcohol develop nutritional deficiencies that further impair brain function.
The precise symptoms of alcohol-related brain damage depend on a person’s overall health, how much they drink, and how well their liver works, among other factors.
As soon as alcohol enters the bloodstream, the way the brain works changes. Moderate alcohol consumption can cause the following temporary effects:
loss of inhibition
decreased planning and organization skills
mood and concentration changes
difficulty making new memories
changes in energy levels
lack of criteria
Reduced motor control, including delayed reflections that can make driving dangerous.
People with severe symptoms of poisoning or symptoms that last for many hours are at risk of alcohol poisoning.
The ethanol in alcohol acts as a poison. When the liver cannot filter this venom fast enough, a person can develop signs of alcohol intoxication or alcohol overdose. An alcohol overdose affects the brain’s ability to maintain basic life functions.
slow heart rate
difficulty staying awake
low body temperature
low gag reflex, which can increase the risk of suffocation if a person vomits
cold and clammy skin
An untreated alcohol overdose can be fatal. Severe alcohol overdoses can cause permanent brain damage even if the person survives.
The higher the concentration of alcohol in a person’s blood, the higher their risk of alcohol overdose. Excessive consumption of drinks with high alcohol content is more likely to cause alcohol poisoning. People who have smaller bodies, drink alcohol less frequently, or have a history of liver disease are also more vulnerable to alcohol poisoning.
Over time, alcohol abuse can cause permanent brain damage.
One form of alcohol-related brain damage is Korsakoff syndrome. Korsakoff syndrome often appears after an episode of Wernicke’s encephalopathy, which is an alcohol-related acute brain dysfunction.
The two conditions, together called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, occur in people with severe thiamine (vitamin B-1) deficiency. Alcohol abuse makes it more difficult for the body to absorb this nutrient, but other problems, such as serious eating disorders, cancer, AIDS, and conditions that affect the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, can also cause the syndrome of Wernicke-Korsakoff.
Some symptoms of Wernicke’s encephalopathy include:
confusion and disorientation that continue well beyond the intoxication period
malnutrition that can cause significant weight loss
difficulty moving the eyes or strange and jerky movements
After Wernicke’s encephalopathy, the person may develop signs of Korsakoff syndrome. This disorder is a type of dementia.
memory problems, in particular difficulties in forming new memories
lack of criteria
decreased planning and organization skills
mood and personality changes
progressive worsening of cognitive decline that can affect all areas of
function, including speech, vision, and bowel and bladder function
Vitamin supplements and total alcohol withdrawal can reverse symptoms of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome within the first 2 years after stopping drinking.
How much can people safely drink?
Although alcohol can cause significant brain damage, new body of research suggests that moderate alcohol consumption may be beneficial to the brain.
A study that followed 9,087 participants for 23 years found that people who did not drink alcohol in middle age were more likely to develop dementia. The risk of dementia was lowest among those who consumed 14 or less units of alcohol per week.
The 2015-2020 US Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men. People who should avoid alcohol include those who:
are recovering from alcohol use disorder
are taking drugs that interact with alcohol
they are pregnant
have certain liver diseases
find it difficult to control their consumption
Since safe alcohol consumption varies from person to person, and different sources recommend different intakes, it is important to take an individualized approach. People should speak to a healthcare professional about their alcohol use history and personal risk factors for personalized advice on safe alcohol use.
How to Reduce Alcohol Intake
People with a history of alcohol abuse may not be able to consume alcohol safely. In these cases, the best strategy is to avoid alcohol completely.
People with severe addictions or a long history of alcohol abuse can experience severe withdrawal symptoms when they quit smoking. People should talk to a doctor about medical detoxification, which can prevent serious problems, such as delirium tremens. Some people find hospital rehab or support groups, like Alcoholics Anonymous, to be helpful.
People who want to reduce alcohol consumption should consider the following strategies:
set a personal limit of one drink a day for women and two for men
only drink at certain times or occasions, such as parties or weekends
not using alcohol to deal with emotional stress or to fall asleep
drinking low-alcohol beverages, for example, replacing spirits with wine
The effects of alcohol on the brain vary based on dosage and individual factors, such as general health. In general, the more alcohol a person drinks, the more likely alcohol will harm the brain, both in the short and long term.
Moderate alcohol consumption is the best strategy to reduce the risk of alcohol-related brain damage. People who drink excessively, drink to the point of bad judgment, or deliberately get drunk many times a month are at a much higher risk of alcohol-related brain damage.
Source; opera news