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Excessive or binge drinking is a major epidemic among youth and adults. Around 200,000 people die every year in the United States alone due to overdrinking, and the number of people affected by the drinking of others is even larger. Those who overdrink can also end up with serious injuries or chronic health conditions. Heavy drinking, which is more than one or two drinks per day, increases an individual’s risk for health issues.
he first thing you need to know is the technical definition of a drink. One drink is defined as twelve ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, or 1.25 ounces of 100-proof liquor. About 8 percent of the United States population drinks more than three drinks per day or beyond the safe level of drinks, and these people are prone to diseases, injuries, and other problems that nondrinkers or light drinkers may not face. Once you’ve established where you fall on the scale, you may ask, “Can the damage to my body be undone?”
Let’s first look at consequences drinking has on your liver. If you have early-stage liver disease or damage to your liver and stop drinking, you may be able to reduce or reverse the damage. Thankfully, the liver is a very resilient organ. If you’ve developed cirrhosis, your prognosis is somewhat dependent on if you continue to drink. If you have early signs of cirrhosis, your prognosis may be that you have an 80 percent chance to live another ten years if you stop drinking. If you continue drinking, you’ll have a higher risk of early death. Even those with later stages of cirrhosis may benefit from eliminating alcohol from their diets, so it’s never too late to try to reverse some damage.
Ulcers are another problem you could face. If they are in the liver, they are part of cirrhosis; ulcers in the stomach, however, present a different problem. Gastritis and stomach ulcers are common when you drink often. When the lining of the stomach is damaged, you’ll suffer from pain, trouble eating, and more. Left untreated, an ulcer may burst and become threatening to your health. The good news is that most ulcers can be treated with drugs like proton pump inhibitors, which will eliminate extra acid and give your stomach lining time to heal. In all cases of ulcers, you should stop drinking to help avoid further complications.
If you’ve developed Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, you’re probably facing neurological challenges. Drinking can damage the brain and lead to this condition, which is caused by a lack of nutrients in the body, especially thiamine or vitamin B1. This condition, in the simplest of terms, is a memory deficit. You might have symptoms of short-term or long-term memory loss, attention deficit issues, and disorientation. Impaired eye movement and long-term confusion are not uncommon.
The good news is that you can repair the damage. Eliminating alcohol from your diet is the first step. Second, you’ll need to seek medical help to get as much mental clarity back as possible. This may be achieved with medications, dietary supplements, or through hospitalization in severe cases. Hospitalization is normal for those who are not mentally stable due to the syndrome’s effects.
Cardiomyopathy is one condition that you may not be able to reverse. Long-time alcohol abusers are most commonly affected, and the condition may not be noticeable until it is in a severe or critical stage. This disease both enlarges and weakens the heart, which can become fatal if not detected and treated appropriately. Some symptoms include a swollen abdomen, dizziness, swollen feet, and tiredness.
If you’ve been diagnosed with this condition, you may benefit from eliminating alcohol from your diet. Medications and rehab treatments through a medical provider may help extend or improve your life. Unfortunately, the disease is not typically reversible.
The last thing you might wonder about is how to get back your vitality. If you’ve been drinking in the short term, you may just have a lack of appetite or lack of nutrients. Common deficiency issues include a lack of vitamins D, B6, A, C, thiamine, and B12. To feel well again, start by eliminating alcohol from your diet, as it prevents your body from absorbing nutrients that it needs.
Taking a vitamin supplement can help replenish your deficient vitamin stores, and moderate exercise can help you keep your weight under control. Eating a diet high in nutrients and low in fat can also help, but it may still take a year or more to regain your health and feel like you did before alcohol.
Get help before you or your loved one does irreparable harm to your body. We urge you to call either our toll-free alcohol addiction helpline to find treatment or another one you can trust. That number is 1-888-716-9806 .