Even though alcohol is widely used and socially acceptable, it acts as a toxin inside the human body. When it comes to the effects of alcohol and the liver, the consequences can be pretty damaging, resulting in various short-term and long-term effects. Some of these include increased risk for certain cancers, damage to the brain and nervous system, increased risk for heart problems, and more. To minimize these adverse effects and protect your liver health, it is essential to limit your alcohol intake.
You rely on your liver to break this substance down and safeguard your health. However, you can quickly outstrip the organ’s peak processing ability unless you limit your drinking intake. If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol intake, The Right Step’s alcohol addiction treatment center can help provide resources and support. Contact us at 17135283709 to learn more about the short-term effects of alcohol on the liver.
Alcohol Processing Basics
When you drink, alcohol gets absorbed into your bloodstream through the lining of your stomach and small intestine. Once in your bloodstream, it travels to your liver for processing. Since alcohol is toxic, the organ prioritizes its breakdown and elimination. Still, these actions take time, and your liver can only effectively deal with a maximum of a single ounce of pure alcohol per hour. This is the equivalent of just one standard drink. (The overall size of a standard drink depends on whether you consume beer, wine, or distilled liquor.)
Alcohol and the Liver
Alcohol will not typically harm the function of your liver if you limit your intake to one standard drink or less per hour (although some people may have conditions that considerably lower this upper limit). However, since the organ treats alcohol processing as a priority, your intake may still temporarily reduce its ability to perform its ongoing tasks. These tasks include such vitally important things as:
- Helping your immune system function normally
- Helping you eliminate everyday waste products from your bloodstream, and
- Creating clotting proteins in your blood
As a result, if you consistently drink beyond that upper limit, your liver may not be able to keep up. Over time, this can lead to serious damage and increases your risk for numerous health problems such as fatty liver disease (also known as alcoholic hepatitis), cirrhosis, and even cancer.
Short-Term Effects of Alcohol on the Liver
The damaging short-term effects of alcohol on liver tissue appear whenever you consume more than a single drink in a given hour. The first problem to arise is typically an alteration of the organ’s average chemical balance. If you habitually drink in excessive amounts, the frequent presence of alcohol in your system will lead to a significant reduction of your liver’s ability to process fat (another one of its crucial jobs). Eventually, this short-term effect can lead to the onset of alcoholic fatty liver disease, which occurs when fat builds up abnormally inside the organ. The presence of this condition is the first stage of alcohol-related liver disease, which can lead to severe, potentially life-threatening inflammation and scarring in its advanced stages.
Other effects of alcohol on the liver include:
Hepatitis, or inflammation of the liver (This is typically short-lived but can recur and lead to severe problems if untreated.)
- Alcoholic hepatitis, which is permanent inflammation of the organ that may be accompanied by jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin) or acute liver failure
- Increased risk of developing liver cancer
- Irregular heartbeat, which can lead to heart failure and subsequent death if untreated
If you drink too much alcohol regularly, you will eventually suffer from alcohol-related liver disease. Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to protect your liver health, even while enjoying the occasional glass of wine or beer. These include limiting alcohol intake, eating a healthy diet rich in liver-protective nutrients such as vitamins C and E, and fitting regular exercise into your routine. Additionally, if you suspect that you may already have liver damage due to alcohol abuse, it is essential to get appropriate medical treatment as soon as possible.
Maintain Your Health with The Right Step’s Help
At The Right Step, we understand the importance of liver health and are committed to helping our clients lead healthy, substance-free lives. If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol abuse, please get in touch with us today to learn more about our comprehensive treatment programs for addiction and mental health issues. We can help you overcome this difficult period and regain control of your life, so you can get back to living the happy and healthy lifestyle you deserve. Contact us at 17135283709 today to learn more about maintaining your health.