Alcohol’s influence on human organism

Alcohol’s influence on human organism

Nowadays the whole world is captured by alcohol boom. The statistics of alcohol drinking in the world is striking. Alcohol becomes the reason of millions people’s deaths all over the world. Alcohol dependence attacks all five continents. Every year up to 2,5 million people die of alcohol.

Alcohol is the most threatening for the rising generation – children, teenagers, young people and prospective mothers. The way we react to alcohol depends mostly on our heredity. Some people are more sensitive, than the others, and even small doses of alcoholic drinks make them feel such symptoms, as palpitation, high pressure and so on. The scientists discovered the main reason of that – the lower activity of enzyme acetal dehydrogenase, which simply doesn’t have time to break down alcohol. Such effect is called a flush syndrome. Asian people suffer from the lack of this enzyme more often. Therefore a gene responsible for “lasy” acetal dehydrogenase is called Asian, while the contrary one, which breaks down alcohol fast and without consequences, is known as European gene. Asian gene is found rather seldom, only by 5-8 percent of people in the whole world.

The harm of alcohol is obvious. After getting into human body, alcohol is carried with blood to all organs. So, let us see, what kind of poison it is. No matter, how alcoholic drinks may differ from each other (by look, taste, smell and price), as far as all of them consist of two main components: ethyl alcohol and water. Some drinks may contain coloring and flavoring matters, sugar and carbonic acid, added to make them more attractive.

Ethanol (ethyl alcohol) - C2H5OH is a representative of homologous series of monohydric alcohol. It can be produced either synthetically, or by the method of fermentation. Alcohol gets quickly absorbed, as it easily dissolves in fats, so in 5-10 minutes after having a drink it appears in the blood. The maximum concentration of alcohol in blood sets in an hour after drinking on an empty stomach, and in 1,5-2 hours if the stomach is full, and it stays in the blood for 5-7 hours. The degree of alcohol intoxication is directly proportional to its concentration in the blood.

How alcohol affects the brain and nervous system

The brain suffers from alcohol most of all. Danish scientists revealed that even a controlled drinking may result in a contracted brain – the condition, registered by 85 percent of drinking people. Normally erythrocytes are covered by oil film, which allows them electrify and push off from each other. Alcohol destroys this cover and neutralizes electric charge. As a result, erythrocytes stick together and form plaques occluding microcappillaries, which supply neurons with blood. Finally the brain cells stop receiving oxygen. It leads to hypoxia, which the drunken people take as inebriation. These cells die off and begin to decompose. They appear to be the reason of headache caused by hangover as well. Later on they are excreted with urine. Each gram of pure alcohol kills about 200 neurons in human brain; it makes the person dull and worsens his memory. The regular alcohol drinking leads to weak-headedness. For example, by drinking a half-litre bottle of beer, the human kills more than 5000 neurons in his brain.

A drinker has euphoria, inflated self-concept and talkativeness; his concentration and critical mind get low, what indicates of light alcoholic intoxication. The person can’t be normal and healthy in such condition, first of all because of his mind disorder. Normally our consciousness rules the mental activity. But when alcohol gets into the blood, it is sure to be in the brain. Thus ethanol starts to rule one’s thinking. Some people assure that light intoxication helps them to become the life and soul of the party. But sudden eloquence and sparkling sense of humor are deceptive. The sober men hear instead of wit nothing but vulgarity and boredom. The typical thought disorder is alcoholic perseveration – the endless and annoying repetition of one and the same silly thing. The sober men can’t stand drunkards, who start singing to all that. Actually their manner of singing needs something to be desired, as drinkers do not really sing but shout without any sense of rythme and melody, although they think alcohol helps them to sing like Pavarotti. The drunkards present a completely sorry spectacle, when inspired by alcohol they throw themselves into a dance. They think they dance a perfect ballet or something, but frankly speaking, the movements of a drunk have nothing in common with good dancing at all. Watching the drunken party afterwards may be of great help to sober them up, because in sober condition many people can’t believe what they see on screen.

The concentration of 0,2 percent leads to coordination disorder. The person can’t go without assistance, his speaking gets disjointed, his tongue is tied. It is the medium degree of intoxication. The concentration of 0,4 percent leads to comatose state. The death of respiratory failure takes place, when the concentration of alcohol in blood reaches 0,6-0,7 percent.

Alcohol and the heart

The harm of hard drinking for the heart is known for everyone. Alcoholic cardiomyopathy is the reason of 30 percent of sudden death cases. Getting into the blood, alcohol stays in human organism for 5-7 hours. All that time the heart has to work in unfavorable conditions. The pulse increases its frequency till 100 beats per minute; metabolism and myocardium nutrition get destroyed. Alcohol affects the myocardium so, that it loses its elasticity and works at the breaking point.

The myocardium accumulates the excessive amount of fat, degenerates and becomes slack. The heart hardly copes with its function. As a result we have early atherosclerosis and hypertensive disease. Alcoholics are three times more subjected to hypertensive disease and its catastrophic complication - cerebral hemorrhage or cerebrovascular accident. And what is the most terrible, it happens rather early – at the age of 40-45 years old.

Alcohol’s influence on the liver

Ethanol oxidizes mostly in the liver, where 75-98 percent of taken alcohol is metabolized. There are two hepatic enzymes responsible for ethanol metabolism: alcohol dehydrogenase and acetal dehydrogenase. As soon as we take a sip of alcoholic drink, alcohol dehydrogenase starts to break it up, generating acetaldehyde. The more active this enzyme, the faster get we rid of alcohol intoxication, the easier and more unnoticeable will be the coming hangover. Then the second enzyme called acetal hydrogenase oxidizes the received substance to vinegar. The quality and the speed of reaction of these two enzymes depend on one’s genotype. With the help of special research methods it was discovered, that even a single-dose heavy drinking of alcohol leads to serious changes in functions of hepatic cells. The healthy organism overcomes the damage induced by alcohol rather quickly thanks to its compensation abilities. But if a man drinks chronically, the pathological changes become constant. The more often and heavy he drinks, the greater is the number of hepatic cells included in pathological process. The first phase of alcohol-induced liver injury – a fatty liver takes place. The cell grows in size, but the useful working area of the cell decreases. Metabolism in the liver and its barrier function get worsen. Clinicians know cases, when fatty liver became the reason of sudden death. If the person continues drinking (even occasionally and in small doses), hepatic cells suffer from chronic alcohol intoxication and die. Hepatocirrhosis declares itself. Numerous data prove that fatty liver develops in 5-10 years of alcohol abuse; cirrhosis – in 15-20 years. The next stage is cancer.

How alcohol affects the stomach

Alcohol is actually ethanol, which appears to be a perfect disinfectant. Contacting mucous membranes, alcohol kills not only harmful microorganisms and bacteria, but also the bacteria, useful for digestion and assimilating good substances in the human organism. A big single dose of alcohol causes erosive or haemorrhagic gastritis. Alcohol abuse leads to unacid gastritis. This type of gastritis is characterized by glandular cells destruction, induced by burning effect of alcohol drinks. These cells are responsible for gastric juice production. As a rule, all mucous membranes have a high regenerative ability, but under the constant influence of alcohol they do not have enough time to regenerate, getting new burns again and again.

Long-term alcohol drinking often follows by gastric ulcer, characterized by severe course of disease and often acute attacks.

Digestion disorder induced by alcoholic gastritis declares itself by changes in stool. During a drinking bout and soon after it alcoholics suffer from diarrhea. The last one often alternates with constipation.

Alcohol and the kidneys

The kidneys play a great role in human body. They filter and excrete the most part of waste products and considered to be the main organs of urinary excretion. Toxines, formed in the process of alcohol metabolism in the liver, pass through the kidneys. Pathogenic effect of alcohol on the kidneys is proved. There are the following forms of alcohol-induced kidney injury: proteinuria and pathological urocheras after a single-dose of alcohol; degeneration of kidneys by a long-term and heavy ethyl alcohol drinking; acute renal failure by delirium tremens and abstinence; myoglobinuria and acute renal failure by alcoholic myopathy; serious cases of alcohol-induced chronical glomerulonephritis and pyelonephritis.

Alcohol causes constant intoxication of the kidneys, and in the course of time it depresses their functions, leading to difficulties in excretion of waste products. Finally the whole organism intoxication takes place. The immunity gets depressed, viruses have the good conditions for reproduction, leading to many diseases, which are usually connected with the worse functioning of kidneys. Besides, alcohol influences on the whole process of urinary excretion. The risk of kidney stones appears, as well as the risk of malignant tumors, which can be extracted only by surgical treatment. In many cases neoplasms are diagnosed too late, when they can’t be extracted, that ends with a loss of kidney or a fatal outcome.

Alcohol effects on the reproductive system

Many men think alcohol stimulates sexual potency. Sometimes small doses of alcohol really can increase sexual desire and make sexual connection longer due to ejaculation delay.

In truth, this is just a first and imaginary effect. Alcohol affects sexual function by three possible ways.

First of all, it reaches genital glands with the blood and hurt them. As a result due to regular alcohol drinking the testicles become smaller in size; the testicular tubules lumen, where sperm cells are produced, decreases as well. Such changes of male genital glands are accompanied by serious disorder of their functions.

Secondly, alcohol-induced injuries of hypothalamus and hypophysis lead to serious reflex disfunction of central nervous system, connected with the specific realization of sexual function, so-called hypothalamic impotence.

Thirdly, alcohol destroys the normal functioning of the liver, which plays a great role in supporting hormonal balance in the organism.

Female sex hormones are neutralized by men in the liver. If the function of the liver is depressed by alcohol, the female sex hormones get accumulated in the man’s blood. Decreasing of male sex hormones and increasing of female ones is accompanied by gradual change in the man’s appearance. So-called feminization takes place, which means female secondary sexual characters appear by men.

Female drinkers have the opposite process. Alcohol-induced genital disfunction appears by them much faster and it is more serious, then by men.

Hormonal disfunction in the female organism (accumulating testosterone, a male genital hormone in the blood), caused by alcohol, leads to changes in the woman’s appearance – masculinization, which manifests itself by muscular tonus (abrupt, unwomanly, angular motions); decreasing and redistribution of subcutaneous fat; changes in voice (it becomes deep and hoarse).

Alcohol and appearance

Many people think the small doses of alcohol affect their appearance in no way. In truth, even if you have one sip of the most low-alcohol drink, it starts the process of dehydration in human body. The skin becomes very dry and swollen. Constant alcohol drinking makes capillaries on the wings of nose broaden; the skin grows flabby; wrinkles and other evident signs of aging appear, and they are not the only problems, which happen by the heavy alcohol drinking.

The human body changes due to hormone disorder and wrong functioning of the liver. The women start looking menlike, while the men acquire female features. The reasons of that we discussed in the former post.

So, it’s time to draw a conclusion, whether this deceptive condition of euphoria is worth the above mentioned consequences and problems or not.

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