Special Report

Excessive Drinking Is Less Than You Think: 23 Ways a Drinking Habit Can Harm You

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11. Inability to form memories

Alcohol can interfere with how the brain makes memories. Waking up with no recollection of what a person did while drinking is not uncommon and is a short-term effect of excessive drinking.

Chronic alcohol use may result in permanent brain damage, which can lead to Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. This disorder of the nervous system, caused by vitamin B1 deficiency, is characterized by memory loss and the inability to form new memories.

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12. Irregular heartbeat

Excessive drinking over a long period of time can cause damage to the heart, including causing arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats. Also known as atrial fibrillation, irregular heartbeats increases the risk of stroke, heart failure, and other heart-related complications. Even low alcohol use increases the risk of irregular heartbeats, and those who suffer from the condition are advised to avoid alcohol.

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13. Liver damage

The liver’s function in the body is to remove harmful substances from the body. But chronic and excessive alcohol consumption can damage the liver, preventing it from functioning properly. A damaged liver leads to toxins and other waste building up in the body.

As a result of chronic excessive drinking, the liver’s healthy tissue starts to scar, destroying the organ and eventually leading to alcoholic liver cirrhosis, the most advanced form of liver disease. In some cases, the damage to the liver cannot be reversed.

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14. Lung infection

People who drink excessive amounts frequently may have a harder time fighting off bacteria and viruses and are more susceptible to lung infections.

Heavy drinking over time is also recognized as an independent factor contributing to acute respiratory distress syndrome, a breathing disorder. Heavy drinkers are three to four times more likely to develop the condition, which has a mortality rate of up to 50%.

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15. Muscle cramps and stiffness

People who drink heavily often may experience muscle cramping and weakness. Excessive drinking over long periods of time may eventually lead to atrophy (decrease in muscle mass, which is sometimes referred to as muscle death).

How exactly alcohol leads to muscle loss is not entirely understood. One theory has to do with nutrition. Alcohol can negatively affect the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, which muscles need to remain healthy.

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