The holidays are upon us and everyone is looking forward to celebrating and having a good time with family and friends. Often this means parties, good food and of course, plenty of alcohol.
While having a few drinks can be fun, it is important to remember that too much alcohol can come with consequences. Most people know that long term alcoholism can cause health problems but fewer people recognise the risks of binge drinking. These include:
- Cardiovascular Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Infectious Diseases
Anaemia is a lack of iron which affects the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen. This can be caused by binge drinking and often results in people feeling tired, shortness of breath and light-headedness.
Cardiovascular disease can also be caused by binge drinking. When people consume large quantities of alcohol over a short period of time, it can affect the bloods ability to clot. Binge drinking makes platelets more likely to bind together into clots which can cause heart attacks or strokes.
Cirrhosis is one of the biggest problems for heavy drinkers. Alcohol is toxic to liver cells and the more a person drinks, the more damage is done. Eventually, the liver becomes mostly scar tissue and the individual may need a liver transplant. This is especially common in women as they are less able to process alcohol.
Dementia is another possible side effect of binge drinking. As people age, their brains shrink. This happens naturally but alcohol speeds the process especially in certain areas of the brain. This can lead to a loss of memory and other crucial functions which is the start of dementia.
Epilepsy or seizures can also be caused by heavy drinking and can trigger seizures even in people without the condition. Alcohol can also affect the medications used to treat epilepsy which can be dangerous for sufferers.
Gout is another painful reminder why you should limit your alcohol intake. Studies have suggested that this condition can be triggered or made worse when someone drinks too much.
High blood pressure is one of the most immediate problems with binge drinking. As people drink, the alcohol can dilate their blood vessels which in turn puts more pressure on the heart and circulatory system. Over time, this high blood pressure can become more permanent and can lead to kidney disease, heart disease and stroke.
Infectious disease is probably the most common side effect of binge drinking. People who binge drink are more likely to have unplanned and unprotected sex than their sober counterparts. This puts drinkers at risk of HIV, STD’s and any number of other infectious diseases.
These are just a few reasons why it is important to control your drinking especially around the holidays. To learn more you can check out our sections on addiction and other disorders.