While you might recover from a hangover after a night of drinking in about 24 hours, or at least just after a good night’s sleep, this is not the case with the internal effects alcohol has on your body. And there is one main organ that alcohol directly affects the most: the liver. Did you know even just consuming as little as one beer or a single glass of wine a day can cause you to develop liver problems?
But, just telling you that alcohol affects your liver does not really put into perspective what it really does. And proving how negatively impactful it is could be vital in helping some people make the life-changing decision to get some help.
What does alcohol do short-term?
The liver can handle some alcohol, but only a little bit. So even while just sitting and casually sipping a drink, if you are drinking too quickly or reach the point of too much for your liver to handle, it will begin to struggle to process it.
When alcohol is introduced to the liver, it causes the liver to produce acetaldehyde – a toxic enzyme – which can damage liver cells and cause permanent scarring to the liver. This toxic enzyme can also harm the brain and stomach lining.
Additionally, your liver requires water to effectively function. However alcohol acts as a diuretic, therefore it dehydrates your body and forces your liver to utilize water from other sources. This puts a strain on your liver and also leaves you waking up with a miserable headache.
What does alcohol do long-term?
A few liver conditions that can be caused by alcohol:
- Fatty liver. This is when too much fat builds up in your liver and can cause fatty liver disease and inflammation.
- Alcoholic hepatitis. This condition is often associated with excessive drinking over a long period of time and the inflammation associated with these habits. This causes the liver to become tender and swollen.
- Cirrhosis. Earlier we discussed how alcohol can cause damage to the liver cells, which then causes scar tissue as a result of chronic inflammation. This damage to the cells and scar tissue development can lead to the development of cirrhosis. Furthermore, the scar tissue affects the flow of blood and fluids through the liver.
Over time, heavy and even just regular drinking can strain or disrupt the way alcohol is metabolized in the body. As a result, you could be at risk of developing alcoholic liver disease.