Effects of Alcohol on the Nervous System
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. It acts at many sites, including the reticular formation, spinal cord, cerebellum and cerebral cortex, and on many neurotransmitter systems. Alcohol is a very small molecule and is soluble in “lipid” and water solutions. Because of these properties, alcohol gets into the bloodstream very easily and also crosses the blood brain barrier. Some of the neurochemical effects of alcohol are:
Increased turnover of norepinephrine and dopamine
Decreased transmission in acetylcholine systems
Increased transmission in GABA systems
Increased production of beta-endorphin in the hypothalamus
Chronic drinking can lead to dependence and addiction to alcohol and to additional neurological problems. Typical symptoms of withholding alcohol from someone who is addicted to it are shaking (tremors), sleep problems and nausea. More severe withdrawal symptoms include hallucinations and even seizures.
Chronic alcohol use can:
Damage the frontal lobes of the brain
Cause an overall reduction in brain size and increase in the size of the ventricles
Cause a vitamin deficiency. Because the digestion system of alcoholics is unable to absorb vitamin B-1 (thiamine), a syndrome known as “Wernicke’s Encephalopathy” may develop. This syndrome is characterized by impaired memory, confusion and lack of coordination. Further deficiencies of thiamine can lead to “Korsakoff’s Syndrome”. This disorder is characterized by amnesia, apathy and disorientation. Widespread disease of the brain is a feature of both Wernicke’s and Korsakoff’s Syndromes
Almost everyone has tried alcohol at some stage, and many also use it as a regular basis in parties and other special occasions. When a small amount of alcohol is consumed, it stimulates the appetite and makes it easier for people to produce conversations and it also gives relaxation and good feelings. However excessive drinking can cause serious negative effects. Some of the negative effects are ...
Effects Of Alcohol On The Circulatory System
Alcohol is a vasodilator, which means it opens up blood vessels, especially those near the surface of the skin. This gives drinkers a feeling of warmth, even though their body temperature may actually go down. This phenomenon is often observed at football games played in very cold weather. Some fans will drink so much alcohol they will take their jackets off to “cool off.” Unfortunately, they often find themselves in bed days later with upper respiratory infections.
Long Term Effests Include:
High blood pressure
Irregular heart beat
Damage to the heart muscle
Increased risk of heart attack and stroke