Effects of Alcohol

Effects at different blood alcohol levels

Ingested alcohol shows its effects within 30 seconds after drinking. Alcohol passes first through the stomach and small intestine, where it gets absorbed into the bloodstream. The blood carries the alcohol further to the liver, heart, and brain. The primary effects of alcohol are on the nerve cells.

One drink for the average person creates a feeling of relaxation. Two to three drinks in an hour can affect the drinker's judgment and lower inhibitions. Five drinks in two hours will raise the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.10, which is above the point of legal intoxication in all states. Here are some likely effects of intoxication under different BAC levels:

  • 0.02-0.05: relaxation, slight body warmth, lower inhibition;
  • 0.05 -0.10: impairment of speech, vision, balance, sedation, tranquility, slowed reaction time, reduced self-control;
  • 0.10-0.20: slurred speech, blurred vision, poor coordination, loss of balance, slowed thinking, and nausea;
  • 0.20-0.30: difficult walking, total mental confusion, double vision, nausea, vomiting;
  • 0.30-0.40: may pass out, tremors, memory loss, cool body temperature;
  • 0.40-0.50: difficulty breathing, coma, possible death;
  • 0.50 and greater: death.

Effects on on brain and central nervous system

The brain is the most affected by alcohol. Constant drinking for years can badly alter brain functions by reducing the amount of oxygen, vitamins and brain tissues. There are three noticeable effects of this: memory loss, confusion, and augmentation (hyper-alertness to normal situations, perceiving light as brighter and sounds as louder).

Effects on the heart

Drinking leads often to irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure. The heart can be affected by the vitamin deficiencies caused by a neglected diet. The pumping action of the heart is weakened and heart failure can result from this.

Effects on the liver

Some of the most serious effects on the body from drinking alcoholic drinks is caused by damage done to the liver. High rates of alcohol in the blood cause liver cells to die and stops the liver from working efficiently. This causes further hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), hyperuricemia (as in arthritis or gout), fatty liver (which may lead to cirrhosis or increased susceptibility to hepatitis), and hyperlipemia (which leads to heart problems).

Effects on the stomach

Drinking affects the stomach, the small and large intestines, and the pancreas. Many drinkers experience gastritis or stomach ulcer. Alcohol has a big impact on the pancreas also. Alcohol causes a growth of blood sugar and pancreas responses by producing insulin, which leads to hypoglycemia - a fast drop of sugar in the blood. In time, the pancreas may stop producing insulin, which can cause diabetes.

Effects on reproductive organs of males and females

Drinking can cause sexual dysfunction such as impotence, infertility and breast cancer for women.

Effects on pregnancy and unborn babies

Pregnant women who drink face a big risk of delivering a baby with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Those babies have small heads, possible brain damage, abnormal facial features, poor muscle tone, speech and sleep disorders and retarded growth and development.

Effects on muscles

Alcohol reduces the blood flow in the muscles and causes spasms, tenderness and makes the muscles weaker and painful.

Effects on immune system

Alcohol makes your body weak and unprotected to infectious diseases. This will first manifest itself by a weakened immune system; a person will catch a lot of colds. In the long term, it increases the susceptibility to more serious infectious diseases and cancer.

After a night of drinking, the alcohol effects last longer than you might think.