Sunday, August 10, 2008

The physical risks of alcohol abuse

Alcohol abuse is a term generally taken to mean drinking so much that it interferes with your ability to have a normal, productive life. The short-term effects of excessive drinking are well-known to one and all, especially to men who may find that drinking too much decreases sexual desire and makes it impossible to . . . well . . . perform. (No evidence suggests that excessive drinking interferes with female orgasm.)
Excessive drinking can also make you feel terrible the next day. The morning after is not fiction. A hangover is a miserable physical fact:
  • You’re thirsty because you lost excess water through copious urination.
  • Your stomach hurts and you’re queasy because even small amounts of alcohol irritate your stomach lining, causing it to secrete extra acid and lots of histamine, the same immune system chemical that makes the skin around a mosquito bite red and itchy.
  • Your muscles ache and your head pounds because processing alcohol through your liver requires an enzyme — nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) — normally used to convert lactic acid, a byproduct of muscle activity, to other chemicals that can be used for energy. The extra, unprocessed lactic acid piles up painfully in your muscles.

No comments: