Feeling a bit out of sorts of late? Perhaps you have been feeling perpetually tired, or under the weather? And how long has it been since you felt physically fantastic?
A cause you could be overlooking? You might be drinking too much and not realizing it. Tempted to brush it off? Perhaps you think there is no way you have an alcohol use disorder? Consider that even overdoing it a little could be doing damage to your health that will take time to recover from.
Here are 5 ways that overindulgence with the drink could be causing you to feel less than your best.
- You become sleep deprived.
Alcohol messes with a person’s sleep patterns, which if not corrected could turn into insomnia.
According to Transcend, a sober living facility in Los Angeles, “Insomnia occurs when you’re incapable of sleeping, and there are many reasons for this. The biggest is stress. Emotional or physical stress will keep your mind too busy and too distressed to relax, and relaxing is the most important part of getting a good night’s est. While depression and oversleeping are often tied together, anxiety and addiction are often conflated with insomnia.”
When you do not sleep enough, you lack alertness, your memory is impaired, and you have a lessened ability to regulate moods. Other bad side effects include a decrease in your quality of life and a higher risk of car accidents.
- Your body gets dehydrated.
After an all-night bender, you probably awakened to a splitting headache, a mouth drier than the Sahara, and a haggard look on your face. Welcome to the effects of dehydration. How does alcohol cause this? Alcohol is diuretic, which means that it causes the body to urinate more than normal. On top of this, the liver requires water to process the alcohol, which further pulls on your body’s hydration levels. Both through urinating more than normal, and your liver requiring more water to process alcohol, the result is dehydration.
Being careful to stay hydrated while you drink is a start, but there are other reasons to curb back on the drink.
- You might develop pancreatitis.
Pancreatitis happens when your pancreas are chronically inflamed. How do they get inflamed? Long-term alcohol abuse is one cause. The pancreas does a couple of important jobs: First, it produces digestive juices your body needs to break down food. And second it produces hormones that are also involved with the digestive process.
Alcohol causes these processes to stop working as they should. The result is nausea, fever, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
- You lower your immune system.
Our immune system is that part of our biology that works overtime to keep us from falling sick whenever we encounter a germ or bacteria. (Which is all the time.) Drinking too much, however, adds stress to our immune system, causing it to work less effectively.
Alcohol abuse reduces our white blood cells ability to neutralize harmful bacteria. This reduced ability makes you vulnerable to viruses and causes your body to be less capable of eliminating cancerous cells.
- You stress your bodily systems.
These side effects, when picked apart might not seem that bad each on their own. But when viewed as a whole, the health detriments are weighty. Maybe you don’t drink daily? Or you drink only on the weekends? If you binge drink, you could still be putting yourself at the same risk as a person who drinks daily. Additionally, binge drinkers have added problems of spiking blood pressure. Plus, binge drinkers are at a higher risk of alcohol poisoning.
If your health has caused you to take a closer look at your drinking habits, good for you! You might be in line for a detox. Going without alcohol for a couple weeks to a month, to longer, could be just what your body needs to get back to an optimum state. A time away from alcohol could also prove to yourself and others that you don’t have an alcohol dependency.
If you find, after making the decision to stop drinking, that you aren’t able to hold yourself to your commitment, you may need professional help. The good news is that the first step in recovery from an alcohol use disorder is admitting you have a problem. Once you know that you want to change, ask your friends and family for support. Other expert-recommendations include going to counseling and utilizing a rehab program.