How Alcohol Cripples Liver

THE risk of serious organ damage is greatly increased when alcohol is taken with drugs, even such common household drugs as aspirin and antihistamines.

One medical study showed that more than 50 of the 100 most often prescribed drugs contain at least one ingredient known to react unfavorably with alcohol.

It is not that a new toxic element develops when two toxic ingredients are mixed, but in many cases one ingredient or the other increases in strength many times when the wrong combination is used.

The already weakened liver is faced with potency far beyond what it can safely handle without further damage to itself. Alcohol is habit-forming because with continued use a fixed desire will be created to repeatedly drink it. Alcohol is addiction-producing in that its continued use as a habit cannot easily be set aside. Prolonged use of large amounts of alcohol may cause serious liver damage.

In the first stage of liver disease caused by alcohol, fat accumulates in the liver. This stage of the disease is known as fatty liver. Most people do not notice symptoms of fatty liver, although in some people the liver becomes enlarged and tender.

Some people with fatty liver develop hepatitis, which inflames and kills liver cells.

Hepatitis is marked by jaundice, which gives a yellowish tint to the eyes and skin. Others may develop cirrhosis, an irreversible condition in which normal liver tissue is replaced by scar tissue.

The scarring prevents blood from travelling freely through the liver, building blood pressure in the veins that run from the intestine to the liver. Consequently, the liver can no longer process toxins efficiently, causing poisons to build up in the blood. This buildup can be fatal.

This is because as blood passes through the liver, enzymes break down alcohol into harmless by-products, which are eliminated from the body six to eight hours later.

But the rate at which alcohol accumulates in the body may be faster than the rate at which the body eliminates it, resulting in rising alcohol levels in the blood.

Consequently, alcohol remains in the body, producing intoxicating effects hours after the last drink was swallowed. As already indicated above, alcohol also develops in alcoholics a disease known as cirrhosis of the liver.

Many small areas of it are destroyed and replaced by scar tissue. As the destruction of liver cells continues, the liver tries to make new ones, but scar tissue keeps building up where the dead cells once were.

These scar nodules give the liver an appearance of being “hob-nailed.” The damage and scarring reduces proper blood circulation through the largest organ inside our bodies. Impaired circulation to the liver equally affects the stomach, intestines, and spleen, and those organs also suffer.

Alcohol first increases stomach acid secretions, and then slows them down. Then the alcohol irritates the stomach lining, resulting in congestion, inflammation, and ulceration.

A chronically-inflamed stomach is the result of regularly using liquor. The back pressure, of blood held back from entering the liver, begins to cause blood plasma to flow out from the peritoneal veins into the abdominal cavity behind the liver.

There it accumulates, sometimes in such large quantities that it must be drawn off repeatedly in order to relieve the alcoholic of severe distention and discomfort. We call this nightmare cirrhosis of the liver. It is progressive, and generally ends in death.

Yet it could be entirely avoided. Drinking liquor in this case was the indirect cause of the problem and stopping the alcohol was the only real way to solve it. Furthermore, ethyl-alcohol, or ethanol, is present in varying amounts in beers and wines, and in distilled liquors such as whiskey, gin, and rum. When a person consumes alcohol, the stomach and intestines rapidly absorb it.

From there alcohol travels in the blood throughout the entire body, affecting nearly every tissue. Moderate and high doses of alcohol depress the functions of the central nervous system, including the brain.

The higher the alcohol level is in the blood, the greater the impairment. Small amounts of alcohol may relieve tension or fatigue, increase appetite, or produce an anesthetic affect that numbs pain. Larger quantities inhibit or depress higher thought processes, bolstering self-confidence and reducing inhibition, anxiety, and guilt.

As a person becomes intoxicated, painful or embarrassing situations appear less threatening and, as drinking progresses, speech may become loud and slurred. Impaired judgment may lead to incautious behavior, and physical reflexes and muscular coordination may become noticeably affected.

If drinking continues, complete loss of physical control follows, ending in stupor, and possibly death. Today experts characterise alcohol-use disorders as a form of illness, and one so widespread that it constitutes a major public health problem.

According to WHO, alcohol dependence and other alcohol-use disorders undermine global health, accounting for 3.5 per cent of the total cases of disease worldwide.

This figure equals the hazards posed by unsafe sex and surpasses two other formidable health foes, tobacco and illicit drugs.

Therefore, to safeguard alcohol induced liver diseases lets observe moderation in alcohol usage.

The world needs our services badly and alcohol has no place in assuring better health for the future if we continue abusing it in any way.

The author is a Motivational speaker, health commentator amp Health practitioner Email jonesmuna@yahoo.com Skype id jones muna

Source : The Times of Zambia

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