Physical Symptoms Of Alcoholism

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Physical Symptoms of Alcoholism

Alcoholism harms many systems in the human body. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH), nearly 88,000 people die annually from alcohol-related causes in the US. Overconsumption of alcohol can cause immediate issues, such as slurred speech, poor balance, stomach pain, vomiting, loss of consciousness, and redness in the face. Over time, the physical symptoms of alcoholism can lead to a multitude of issues in the body.


Physical Symptoms of Alcoholism_Liver

Many people struggling with alcoholism are unaware of the damage done to the liver until the illness is irreversible. The effects of alcohol can mask telltale symptoms of a larger problem. In 2013, 46.4 percent of liver disease and 72.7 percent of cirrhosis deaths were alcohol-related. Identifying the symptoms of liver disease is important for early prevention:

  • Yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice)
  • Abdominal swelling and pain
  • Dark urine
  • Pale or bloody stool
  • Lethargy, nausea, and vomiting

Alcoholism is linked to 1 in 3 liver transplants in the US. Alcohol consumption can increase the risk of cancers of the mouth, esophagus, pharynx, larynx, liver, and breast. The liver serves as a processor for metabolic functions, can be seriously damaged, leading to trouble in other functions of the body.

Physical Symptoms of Alcoholism_CNSCentral Nervous System

Nervous system damage can often be initially identified by a sudden headache that won’t go away. This may be the most difficult to identify with alcoholism, as headaches, confusion, short-term memory loss, and blurred vision are common side effects of alcohol consumption. In addition to the initial symptoms of central nervous system damage, sufferers may experience:

  • Loss of feeling, weakness, or tingling in extremities
  • Sight loss, double vision, and memory loss
  • Trouble with coordination
  • Impotence
  • Tremors

Alcoholic neuropathy (nerve damage due to alcohol consumption) is a common problem with alcoholism. This condition impacts the body’s ability to carry out certain voluntary and involuntary functions, and is responsible for the symptomatic trembling often characterized by alcoholism. Damage to the central nervous system also lowers defenses in the heart and can lead to life-threatening disease.


Physical Symptoms of Alcoholism_Heart

Extended use of alcohol can cause a condition known as cardiomyopathy, or weakening of heart muscle. This condition leads to high blood pressure, stroke, and cardiac arrest. Some of the signs of heart trouble include:

  • Pain, pressure, and heaviness in the chest and arms
  • Radiating discomfort or cramping in the jaw, throat, or arms
  • Sweating, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting
  • High blood pressure

Alcoholism takes a great toll on functions in the heart. Increased caloric intake and triglycerides in the blood leads to significant weight gain, and increases the likelihood of heart disease. Obesity is the number one cause of heart disease, claiming 39 percent of 600,000 annual deaths on average.

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Identifying Alcoholism

Alcoholism affects nearly 17 million Americans each day in the United States. Each person in this census is likely to face some form of health problem if alcoholism continues. Identifying the aspects of alcoholism can aid in finding help before further illness occurs. Some of the physical symptoms of alcoholism include:

  • Increasingly severe hangovers and recovery time
  • Increased tolerance
  • Inability to stop or reduce consumption
  • Withdrawal symptoms when unable to consume

Physical characteristics of alcoholism may vary from person to person. Understanding the impact on vital organs can help identify trouble as a result of alcohol consumption. Unfortunately, the physical characteristics of alcoholism are signs that the body is in trouble. The most prominent indicator of alcoholism is the body’s reaction to lack of alcohol.


Withdrawal from alcoholism is similar to that of any addictive substance. Alcohol withdrawal can occur in any individual suffering from alcoholism, and can vary in severity based on regular consumption, and length of use. Some symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Tremors, convulsions, and uncontrolled shaking
  • Profuse sweating, seizures, and dehydration
  • Hallucinations
  • Agitation and/or anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea or vomiting

Withdrawal symptoms affect each person differently. In rehab, many people turn to medication-aided withdrawals, easing the transition into sobriety. Medications such as Diazepam and Librium act as sedatives to lessen the discomfort while experiencing withdrawals.

Time To Quit

The physical implications of alcoholism affect many people every day. The damage done to the liver, heart, and central nervous system can become greater over time and significantly impact the quality of life in those struggling with alcoholism. Many people require medical intervention to find sobriety. Getting help now can greatly impact your overall health and prevent further damage from alcoholism.

We Can Help

Contact us today to get the help you need to recover from alcohol addiction.If you’re experiencing some or all of the physical symptoms of alcoholism, you’re not alone. There are options to lead a healthier, more comfortable life. If you are worried about the implications of alcoholism, is here to help. We are here to answer any questions you have regarding addiction and can help find resources for treatment. Contact us today.

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