Medical Conditions that Can Be Caused by Alcoholism

Medical Conditions that Can Be Caused by Alcoholism

Heavy alcohol consumption can weaken heart muscles and lead to heart failure

Chronic alcoholism can cause many physical and mental conditions that can have varying degrees of severity. Long-term alcohol abuse can affect a person’s mental state, bone, muscle and organ condition in the following ways:

  • Anemia – A condition that decreases the amount of red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body. The decrease of oxygen levels can result in lethargy, weakness, shortness of breath and feeling lightheaded.
  • Cancer – According to the Center for Addiction and Mental Health, chronic alcohol abuse increases the risk of cancer in the mouth, throat, voice box, esophagus, liver, breast and colon. Chronic drinkers who also use tobacco are at an even greater risk of developing cancer.
  • Cardiovascular disease – Alcohol abuse can lead to abnormal blood clotting, which can result in heart attack and stroke. Heavy alcohol consumption can also weaken heart muscles and lead to heart failure.
  • Cirrhosis – Excessive alcohol consumption poisons liver cells to cause cirrhosis, which can be fatal. Cirrhosis is characterized by scarred liver tissue, and it eventually nullifies liver function. This condition is irreversible and in an advanced stage requires a transplant to prevent fatality.
  • Dementia – As people age, the brain usually shrinks, but excessive alcohol use speeds up the shrinkage process in certain areas of the brain, which can result in memory loss and other problematic symptoms. Alcohol abuse can also decrease one’s ability to make sound decisions, solve problems and to make plans, which are all signs of dementia.
  • Compromised bone strength – Excessive and regular alcohol consumption, especially by adolescents and younger adults, has been linked to osteoporosis later in life. Osteoporosis is a condition that decreases bone density, which results in fragile bones that are easily fractured. Heavy alcohol consumption prevents proper calcium absorption, which weakens the bones, and long-term alcohol abuse will also kill essential cells responsible for growing and maintaining bones. Furthermore, due to nerve damage and balance problems from heavy drinking, along with weakened bones, people are more likely to fall and suffer from severe bone fractures. Improper calcium and vitamin absorption, along with malnutrition caused by excessive alcohol consumption, will also cause fractures to heal more slowly than normal.
  • Nerve and muscle damage – Alcohol abuse can cause nerve damage known as alcoholic neuropathy, which can cause painful feelings of being poked with pins and needles, numbness in extremities, muscle weakness and aches and muscle atrophy. Muscle atrophy typically involves a loss of muscle tissue, which limits movement and decreases muscle strength.

Seek out immediate treatment at a professional rehab facility for alcohol abuse to avoid these common conditions of chronic alcoholism.

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