How Drinking Too Much Can Affect Your Health

New Year’s is just a few days away and party goers everywhere are making their final plans for the big year end celebration.  Many of these celebrations will center around alcohol, so I thought I’d take a weekly post to talk about the dangers and side effects of drinking too much.

Let me start by saying, if you are planning to drink for New Year’s make plans ahead of time to have some one drive you home or plan for a way to stay off the roads.  Beside all the physical effects alcohol will have on you, there’s none more dangerous than driving while drinking, or being on the road when a lot of other people who have been drinking are.  This has to be a priority to keep yourself and others safe.

O.k. now that I’ve got that out of way let’s take a look at how alcohol affects your health.  Heavy drinking messes around with chemicals in your brain.  If you are going to drink for New Year’s try to drink a glass of water or a non alcoholic drink between alcoholic drinks.  This little trick can help slow your roll when it comes to pounding drinks.

How many drinks do I have to have to be impaired?  Great question but there’s not a single answer for that question.  There are too many factors such as gender, weight, number of drinks, time spent drinking, what you’ve had to eat, etc.  Here’s a blood alcohol calculator that can help you determine if you are impaired.

Alcohol also robs you of important deep sleep.  Many people who have a heavy night of drinking will fall asleep fast but the alcohol keeps them from reaching the deep levels of sleep known as REM.  This is another reason why you feel so bad the next day after a night of heavy drinking.

Alcohol dehydrates you worse than a Christmas ham.  If you thought eating ham at grandma’s for the holidays made you thirsty wait until you slam some drinks.  There’s a whole post I could use on staying hydrated and how your body needs water to function properly.  Stay hydrated and drink lots of water.  Again this will help you cut down on the alcoholic drinks.

If you did drink too much and wake up feeling horrible the next day, don’t reach for a cocktail or beer to help you get over it.  You will feel better in the short-term, but all you are doing is delaying the inevitable.  You will eventually get the hangover symptoms.  No matter how many pills you take or recovery drinks you drink, nothing will get your body back to normal except time.  Speaking of pills, don’t take acetaminophen if you’ve been drinking.  The combination of the two could damage your liver.

So to recap….drinking too much equals an unhealthy body.  Cold showers, coffee, exercise, heavy meals, pills won’t help you get sober faster.  Driving while drinking can kill you and drinking too much too fast can give you alcohol poisoning.  This doesn’t sound like a lot of fun when think about it this way does it?

There’s nothing wrong with having a couple of drinks as long as your doctor says it’s o.k. but  don’t overdo it.

Stay safe and I look forward to seeing you in 2013.

Here’s to Your Health!

Dr. K Bennett