Effects of Alcohol in the Body

· September 26, 2014

Alcohol produces innumerable harmful effects in the body.  Primarily, ethanol is a psychoactive drug that causes a lot of side effects, which seriously alters the body.  In this case, the amount of alcohol consumed plays a very important role, as well as the circumstances.

If you drink alcohol with a full stomach, its effects on the body are lessened.  On the other hand, if you drink alcohol on an empty stomach, it has much greater effects.

How does alcohol act in the body?

Alcohol can have a double effect on the body, because at first it produces a great sense of satisfaction and happiness, but the later begins to present blurry vision and serious coordination problems.  The cellular membranes cannot stop the alcohol from moving in.  Once in the blood, it irrigates through the majority of tissues that comprise the body.

With excessive consumption, consciousness is easily lost.  But extremely high consumption can cause alcohol poisoning and can even cause death.  A high alcohol blood content provokes cardiorespiratory arrest, or can cause death by asphixiation in one’s own vomit.  When someone is completely “gone” due to alochol, they can drown in their own vomit by not being able to respond to this need.

After consumption, alcohol can take up to 30 or 90 minutes to reach the blood.  At that time, blood sugar drops, causing complete weakness and exhaustion.  This happens because alcohol accelerate the transformation of glucogen into glucose, which is then quickly eliminated.

The phases of alcohol intoxication

After having drank alcohol, its effects appear.  These depend on how much alcohol was ingested.

  • The first is euphoria, excitation, lack of inhibitions, and the drinker acquires impulsive behavior.
  • The second is intoxication.  When the body is not used to alcohol and it affects the nervous system, the drinker loses the ability to coordinate movements.  Balance is lost, which causes falls.  Alcohol causes depression and heat loss in the body.
  • The third phase is hypnotic, very confused, produces irritability, agitation, sleep, nausea, vomiting, and headaches.
  • The fourth stage is anesthetic and stupor.  The drinker says incoherent words, consciousness is noticeably diminished, muscular strength is lost, and they can no longer control the urge to urinate, breathing becomes difficult.
  • The fifth phase is bulbar or death.  They enter into cardiovascular shock, which causes respiratory arrest, and death.

The effects of alcohol consumption on the body

A lot of alcohol’s effects on the body take place over short and long-term, affecting a lot of organs.

The brain and nervous system

  • Frequent alcohol consumption seriously affects brain function.  In the first place, emotions, causing sudden changes in mood, mobility control is alter, causing poor pronunciation, slow reactions, and loss of balance.
  • Neurotransmitter actions can be alters, modifying their structure and function.  This produces a series of effects like the ability to react, reflexes are slowed, one loses the ability to coordinate movements, this produces shakes and halucinations.  Self-control is lost, along with memory, the ability to concentrate, and motor functions are seriously affected.
  • All of these effects together are cause of a large amount of work and traffic accidents, which have ended the lives of a considerable amount of people around the world.
  • Alcohol causes serious damage to the brain cells, along with the peripheral nerves.  This damage can be permanent.
  • Alcohol also causes vitamin B1 loss, which causes Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, which provokes changes in feelings, thoughts, and memory.
  • Creates sleep disorders in a large majority of people that frequently consume alcohol.
  • These people also frequently isolate them in their social, work, and family lives, which causes family abandonment, divorces, and job loss.  This can cause deep depression, and in the majority of cases, ends in suicide.
  • A large part of these effects are produced depending on the quantity and frequency with which alcohol is consumed.
  • In very high doses, it can produce comas.  In very advanced cases, it can cause very serious mental changes, and permanent brain damage.
  • It can create periods of anemia, with changes in memory condition which can last from minutes, to hours, or even days.

In the heart and respiratory system

  • Increases cardiac activity.
  • Consumption in very high doses can increase blood pressure, creating cardiac muscle damage due to the toxic effect of alcohol.
  • Weakens the cardiac muscle, and therefore weakens its ability to pump.
  • Produces peripheral vasodilation, which causes redness in the skin, and an increase of superficial skin temperature.

In the digestive tract: stomach, pancreas, liver, and esophagus

All of this gastric discomfort is due to the fact the ethanol erodes and irritates the gastric mucosa, causing stomach burning.  This can be worsened by drinking different types of liquor at the same time.

  • Alcohol increases gastric acid production, causing irritation and inflammation in the stomach walls.  This can lead to ulcers and internal hemorrhages, which can be fatal.
  • High alcohol consumption can cause cancer of the stomach, the larynx, esophagus, and the pancreas.
  • It can cause esophagitis, or rather, inflammation of the esophagus, as well as bleeding esophageal varicose veins.
  • Creates acute pancreatitis, which is severe inflammation of the pancreas.  This can cause death.
  • Pancreatitis can also be chronic, cause intense, permanent pain.
  • Alcohol consumption can cause the drinker to suffer from type II diabetes, with the severe consequences  that this disease causes in people who suffer from it.
  • The liver is the organ in charge of metabolizing alcohol.  Liver enzymes transform the alcohol first into acetaldehyde, and then into acetate, and other compounds.  This process is very slow, and therefore, causes damage to the liver tissues.
  • Due to liver irritation and cellular inflammation, one could be likely to develop alcoholic hepatitis.  In this way, the liver could be affected, first transforming into fatty liver, and it can then develop into hepatitis, and later, cirrhosis.  This could end up producing liver cancer, which could cause death.
  • Other changes in this organ could include jaundice, or a yellow coloring to the skin, sclera, and fluid accumulation in the extremities.
  • Kidney function is altered as the anti-diuretic hormone levels decrease, which causes dehydration.
  • Alcohol provides a large amount of calories with very little nutritive value.  It impedes the absorption of some vitamins and minerals and eliminates the appetite, causing malnutrition.

In the blood

  • It impedes the productions of white and red blood cells.
  • Megaloblastic anemia is produced when there are not enough red blood cells to transport oxygen.

In the immune and reproductive systems

In pregnancy and the fetus

  • Consuming alcohol during pregnancy can cause fetal alcohol syndrome in the fetus.  Symptoms of this condition manifest as growth retardation, changes in craniofacial traits, cardiac deformations, liver, kidney, and ocular deformations.
  • The most severe damage is produced in the fetus’s central nervous system, which can cause marked mental retardation.

Alcohol dependency syndrome, or alcoholism


This is one of the most severe problems brought about by drinking without limits, or uncontrollably, due to the large amounts of symptoms and diseases that are associated with alcoholism.

We hope that this illustration of all the serious and health-destroying problems that alcohol can create in those that don’t control their impulses to drink.  Let this be a true help in becoming conscious, and at least trying to get professional help.  More than just a “vice”, as it is called by so many people, alcoholism is a serious health problem that should receive immediate attention as soon as you begin to feel the desire to drink frequently.

If you have a friend, family member, or someone you know, that has this problem, try to help them quit.  Help them find a rehabilitation center for alcoholics.  I assure you that later on, they will thank you, because in this way, they will be saved from numerous problems, both with family as well as personally.  And most importantly, to avoid the serious health consequences, that can frequently be fatal.