St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner, and those celebrations bring green beer and pub crawls. This St. Patrick’s Day, the team of physicians at your local AFC wants to raise your awareness of binge drinking and the harmful effects that it may have on your health. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, binge drinking is defined as a pattern of drinking that brings the blood alcohol content (BAC) to .08, which occurs after about four drinks for women and five drinks for men, consumed within a period of two hours.
The most dangerous short-term effect of binge drinking is alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning is most likely to occur when a person is drinking large amounts of alcohol over a short period of time. Cases of alcohol poisoning can range in severity. In some cases, people may only experience problems with balance and slurred speech, but alcohol poisoning can become severe enough to lead to coma, seizure or even death. Signs of alcohol poisoning include confusion, vomiting, seizures, slow breathing, irregular breathing, difficulty remaining conscious, clammy skin and low body temperature.
Binge drinking is not only harmful for your body in the short term, but it also has many long-term effects on your health. A person who binge drinks on a regular basis increases risk for long-term health problems that affect all parts of the body. Regular binge drinking can cause the following health issues:
- Alcohol dependence
- Neurological damage: Problems with memory, concentration, reasoning and increased risk of stroke.
- Digestive system damage: Increased risk of peptic ulcers, gastritis and stomach cancer.
- Heart problems: Increased risk of high blood pressure and heartbeat rhythm irregularities.
- Liver disease: Increased risk for alcoholic hepatitis and the development of a fatty liver, which can lead to cirrhosis of the liver.
- Psychological problems: Increased risk of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression and insomnia.
- Sexual health problems: Increased risk of erectile dysfunction, lower testosterone levels and sperm growth issues for men. Increased risk of lower fertility in women.
Binge drinking has serious effects on your health, in both the short and long term. To prevent binge drinking, understand the serving size of a standard drink, consume alcoholic beverages slowly and drink water in between alcoholic beverages. If you have any questions about alcohol and binge drinking, contact the physicians at your local AFC.