Alcohol affects many areas of your health. It can impact the way you think and even the way you look. Alcohol use disorder is a progressive disease, so the more you drink and the more often you drink, the more you and others will notice changes in your mental and physical health. Physical signs of alcoholism can result from the conditions and diseases caused by excess alcohol in your body.
Alcohol Use Disorder
Alcoholism is more than simply having an occasional glass of wine with dinner. When you have an alcohol use disorder, you have become dependent on alcohol despite the problems it may be causing you at work or at home. Alcoholism can cause lasting changes in the brain, which makes stopping the harmful drinking dangerous without professional help. Just over 14 million adults in the US had an alcohol use disorder in 2019.
Damage to Physical Health
Beyond the changes to your mental health, there are also many physical signs of alcoholism. It’s hard to cover up the smell of alcohol on your breath, of course, but excessive drinking can also lead to poor overall hygiene. Many people do not eat properly as a result of their alcohol use disorder, so weight loss and malnutrition are frequent signs as well.
Alcohol can cause you to be dehydrated, as it slows down the process of an anti-diuretic hormone in your body. Your kidneys will have to work twice as hard to counteract the excess fluid and that results in your organs becoming dehydrated. Your skin is the largest organ in your body and will show physical signs, including cracks and wrinkles. Excessive drinking can make you appear much older than you actually are.
Zinc deficiency is one of the effects of alcoholism and that can cause hair loss. You will probably also have lower levels of vitamins B and C as well as higher levels of estrogen as a result of your drinking, which can also cause hair loss.
Red Face and Bloodshot Eyes
Alcohol will cause the small blood vessels in your skin to widen, which allows more blood to flow closer to the surface. Sometimes the blood vessels on your face will actually burst and the capillaries will break. Your face will become red. When you have an alcohol use disorder and drink large quantities or frequently, this skin change in your face can be permanent.
The blood vessels in your eyes will also become irritated, causing a condition known as bloodshot eyes. More seriously, binge drinking can lead to optic neuropathy or toxic amblyopia, which can leave you blind.
People may joke about having a “beer belly.” Unfortunately, alcohol use can lead to the body becoming deprived of the fluids and electrolytes it needs, so it will store the water you do consume through food or beverage. You are probably having to go to the bathroom more when you drink and you may be sweating more, causing even more water loss. Your body reacts by retaining what water it still has in its system. That makes your stomach look puffy, as well as possibly your feet, face, and hands.
Signs of Liver Failure
One of the more serious effects of alcoholism is the damage it causes your liver. Cirrhosis of the liver happens when your liver is scarred and permanently damaged by the alcohol you consume. The scar tissue replaces the healthy liver tissue, preventing your liver from working as it should. As the cirrhosis progresses, your liver begins to fail.
Alcoholic liver disease is life threatening and will show as physical signs of alcoholism. You may have dark circles under your eyes and your eyes may turn yellow from a condition known as jaundice. You will notice skin rashes on your body as well. These are signs of a dangerous condition that could be fatal if not treated properly.
Gender-Specific Alcohol Addiction Treatment
Alcoholism damages your physical health and your mental health. When you have developed an alcohol addiction and want to stop drinking, we are here for you. Detox and supervised withdrawal will help you safely process the mental and physical symptoms so you can move forward with a healthy recovery. If you are struggling with substance abuse or mental illness, please contact PACE Recovery Center to learn more about our programs and services. We offer gender-specific treatment for men who have a desire to turn their life around. Recovery is possible, and we can help.