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An alcoholic drink or alcoholic beverage consists of ethanol, produced by fermentation of grains, fruits, or other source of sugar. Alcohol consumption plays an important social role in many social cultures. Alcoholic drinks are typically divided into three classes: beers, wines, and spirit and typically their alcohol content is between 3% and 50%.

What are the health effects of alcohol?

Alcohol has significant negative health effects including risk of death & cancer. These negative effects are related to amount of alcohol consumed with no safer limit seen.

Alcohol is a depressant, which in low doses produces euphoria, reduces anxiety and improves sociability but in higher doses causes drunkenness, stupor unconsciousness or death.Long-term use can lead to alcohol abuse, cancer, physical dependence, and alcoholism.

Short term effects of alcohol

  • Depending upon the amount of alcohol consumed & physical condition of individual, it can cause:
  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness & headaches
  • Vomiting & diarrhea
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Disturbed vision & hearing
  • Impaired judgement
  • Reduced perception & coordination
  • Anemia 
  • Unconsciousness & coma
  • Blackouts (Memory lapses, drinker can’t remember events that occurred under alcohol influence)

Long term effects

  • Binge drinking and continued alcohol use in large amounts produces various health problems as such:
  • Vitamin B1 deficiency leading to disorder characterized by amnesia, apathy & disorientation 
  • Permanent brain damage
  • Nerve damage
  • Liver diseases
  • Hypertension, stroke & other heart-related diseases
  • Sexual problems
  • Gastritis
  • Ulcer
  • Malnutrition
  • Cancer
  • Accidents such as car crash, falls, drowning
  • Increase incidence of sexual assault, domestic violence
  • Increased family & relationship problems

Image source: alcoholrehabguide.com

How the body processes alcohol?

The amount of time that the alcohol stays in system depends on the amount of the alcohol consumed than any other factor. Approximately, 20% of alcohol is absorbed through stomach, and remaining 80% through small intestine, then directly to the bloodstream. Alcohol is rapidly transported throughout entire body through blood (That’s why it impacts differently body systems).  Majority of alcohol metabolism occurs in liver.
In general, liver can metabolize ounce of alcohol in 1 hour. If individual consumes more than this, system becomes saturated, and additional alcohol remains in circulation & other tissues till it is metabolized.

About 90-98% of alcohol entering in the body is absorbed & metabolized. Remaining alcohol is excreted via sweat, urine, vomit & feces.  

What are the factors that affect the alcohol stay in the body?

  • Age: Older the age, longer the alcohol stays in liver. Thus increasing time of intoxication & risk of damaging liver. This means alcohol is processed by the body at slower rate.
  • Gender: As women consists of higher percentage of body fat & lower percentage of body water compared to men, alcohol will stay longer in women’s system. 
  • Weight
  • Metabolism rate
  • Type & strength of alcohol
  • Amount of food consumed by individual: Food helps to dilute the alcohol & slow the stomach emptying. Thus altering the absorption rate. Also eating food while drinking help inducing enzyme activity in liver slowing the absorption rate.
  • Medicines: Some medicines interact with alcohol, affecting how the body processes alcohol.

How long does alcohol stay in body?

Alcohol stays for different time in various parts of our body:

  • Blood: Up to 6 hours 
  • Breath: 12-24 hours
  • Urine: 12-24 hours
  • Saliva: 12-24 hours
  • Hair: 90 days

Image source: drugrehab.com

The rate at which alcohol can stay in the system depends on various factors.  The keynote is safety and moderation, keeping the consumption few drinks per week & avoiding binge drinking. 

Drink Responsibly & Safely!!!
 

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