What Are the Physical Effects of Alcoholism?
Cirrhosis is a hardening of the
Hi, my name is Dr. Bob Lahita and I'm the chairman of the department of medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Professor of Medicine at UMDNJ of New Jersey. I'm going to talk to you about the effects of alcoholism.There are many, many effects of alcoholism, none of which are very good. First of all, the alcohol itself is very, very irritating. It has a suppressive effect on bone marrow, it effects the esophagus, which is the tube that goes into the stomach. It is a pre-requisite to esophageal tumors, for example. It causes in an acute way, gastritis, or, bleeding within the stomach itself.Long term use of alcohol results in significant changes within the liver, and, it can cause something called pancreatitis. Now let's go to pancreatitis first: that's inflammation of a very important organ, the pancreas. The pancreas makes a number of chemicals that help to digest food, and is the organ that produces insulin for the control of sugar. So, damage to the pancreas, besides causing extreme pain in the abdomen can also effect balances of sugar metabolism. The effects of alcohol on the liver are what is best known by everyone. The late stage of alcoholism is cirrhosis which is a cobblestone hardening of the liver, with destruction of the liver's ability to detoxify chemicals within the body and to make things well. And essentially this results in significant vasodilation so that the person with alcoholism can have a backup of blood into a variety of blood vessels, the most obvious of which are the hemorrhoids- chronic hemorrhoids are a significant effect of alcohol, and also, within the esophagus there are groups of veins that distend and can actually rupture and bleed, and many people succumb to chronic alcoholism by exsanguinating - essentially bleeding to death.Some of the minor effects of alcoholism are swelling of the parotid glands of the cheek, reddening of the palms, and a variety of other skin changes, like in men: the development of breasts because of femininization, and also one can be very, very impotent with erectile dysfunction as a result of the chronic use of alcohol.So alcohol is not good, and chronic alcoholism is a very, very serious medical problem. For more information on the effects of alcoholism, please visit About.com.