You probably already know that alcohol can damage your liver and also cause weight gain. Alcohol converts to sugar in your bloodstream, which provokes an insulin response that studies show can lead to weight gain by causing your body’s cells to store glucose as fat. If you don’t exercise frequently enough and drink in excess of the calories your body needs, the problem can get even worse.
Obesity can cause multiple health issues, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and other life-threatening illnesses, reports the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention But did you know that excessive alcohol use, even in people who are not overweight, can also cause medical issues?
Let’s explore a few diseases caused or worsened by alcohol abuse, which are often exacerbated by being overweight or obese.
Type 2 Diabetes
As the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S., Type 2 diabetes affects roughly 32.3 million Americans, primarily people who are overweight or obese and over age 45.
Many of those who suffer from diabetes experience complications from it, and these complications are also the leading causes of death, including cardiovascular disease, nerve damage, kidney damage, and eye damage that can lead to blindness.
Studies have shown that Type 2 diabetes can sometimes be managed with a healthy diet and exercise program designed to reduce weight. If excessive alcohol use is one of the causes of poor nutrition habits, rehab or recovery may also help a diabetic patient live a long and healthier life.
It’s important to note that type 2 diabetes often needs medication or insulin to control blood sugar.
When you drink, it’s your liver’s job to filter the toxins from your blood. But it does so at the expense of cells. Each time you drink, cells in the liver die. Fortunately, they can regenerative. But drinking too much over time can cause Alcohol Related Liver Disease (ALRD), where it is harder – or impossible – for the liver to regenerate.
ARLD presents in three stages. At its earliest stage, alcoholic fatty liver disease, it may be reversible. Alcoholic hepatitis can occur with binge drinking or excessive drinking over a prolonged period of time. If it’s caused by a binge, you may be able to reverse it if you never drink again.
Signs of alcoholic hepatitis include loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, low-grade fever, and fatigue or weakness. The final stage of ARLD, cirrhosis of the liver, occurs when scars in the liver caused by dead cells overtake healthy tissue. It is irreversible but you may be able to prolong your life by quitting drinking permanently.
Pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas, a gland in the abdomen that aids in digestion and helps regulate blood sugar, becomes inflamed. Nearly 70% of the cases of chronic pancreatitis occur from prolonged alcohol use or abuse.
Many cases of pancreatitis begin as acute pancreatitis, where the pancreas becomes swollen for a short period of time. However, chronic pancreatitis can develop afterwards. Symptoms include intense abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and an increased heart rate.
There are more than 100 types of cancers diagnosed across the world. Alcoholism has been linked to an increased risk of many types of cancer, including those related to the mouth, throat, voice box, esophagus, colon, and rectum.
Long-term alcohol use may also lead to an increased risk of liver cancer, apart from other forms of liver disease. Studies have shown that even small amounts of alcohol may increase the risk of breast cancer in women.
Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (WKS) is a brain disorder caused by a lack of vitamin B-1, sometimes known as thiamine. It is most commonly caused by alcoholism, especially when those with alcohol use disorder drink instead of eating.
WKS often begins as Wernicke’s disease or Wernicke’s encephalopathy. Symptoms may include double vision, lack of muscle coordination, and confusion. As it progresses into WKS, you may also experience amnesia, difficulty speaking or understanding information, and hallucinations. Vitamin B-1 infusions, combined with ongoing supplements and a balanced diet, may all help treatment.
Obesity, poor nutrition, and alcoholism often go hand in hand, as alcohol leads to weight gain and those suffering from AUD would often rather drink than eat or make poor nutrition choices while they’re drinking. Certainly, getting enough of the proper nutrients and keeping your weight in check can help you lead a healthy life.
If you feel you are drinking too much and could be headed down the path of a number of diseases, it might be time to seek help in recovery. Beachside Rehab in West Palm Beach, Florida, is a respected facility that offers inpatient and outpatient detox, rehab, and holistic recovery. Call 866-349-1770 to speak with a trained admissions counselor.