5 Surprising Ways Alcohol Impacts Your Body

Apr 20 • 2017

Drinking alcohol has a direct effect on every part of body – not just your liver. Whether you’re drinking frequently over time or too much on one occasion, the toll can be surprising. In honor of Alcohol Awareness Month, we’ve highlighted just some of the ways that consuming alcohol impacts your health.

Bone and Muscle Health

One of the most commonly missed side effects of alcohol consumption is the impact it has on the health of your muscles and bones. Drinking alcohol frequently over a long period can make it harder for new bone to be produced, which can result in osteoporosis and make it easier for you to experience bone fractures. Additionally, muscles weaken and even atrophy.

Heart Health

While there has been some back and forth around the benefits and risks that drinking alcohol has on your heart health, drinking too much can cause some serious damage. Problems include:

  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Arrhythmias
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke

Brain Health

Alcohol has a huge impact on how your brain functions – and not just while you’re consuming it. When you drink, the alcohol impacts how your brain looks, works, and communicates with the rest of your body. In the long-run, this can result in changes in moods and behavior, trouble thinking clearly, and lack of coordination.

Immune Strength

Your immune system becomes weaker when you abuse alcohol, which makes it harder for your body to fight off viruses, germs, and illnesses in general. Not only does alcohol use increase your risk for cancer, but many people find themselves getting sick more often – sometimes with more dangerous illnesses like pneumonia.

Digestive Health

Digestion can be highly impacted by the amount of alcohol you consume – even if you drink infrequently. Damage to your salivary glands and mouth irritation can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss, while heavy drinking can create ulcers, heartburn, and acid reflux. It also causes your pancreas to become inflamed, which makes it harder for it to keep your metabolism regulated and help with digestion in general. Your digestive tract will also have a more difficult time absorbing vitamins and nutrients.

If you or a loved one are struggling with an alcohol addiction, speak to your doctor or call 1-800-NCA-CALL for help.

Visit our Counseling, Substance Abuse & Behavioral Health page for more information, or find a physician by visiting our Find a Doctor page.