Hung over? We all know that the morning after a wild night out is a rough one. From dizziness to nausea and headaches to drowsiness, hangovers aren’t pleasant.
But besides having a nasty hangover and possible liver damage, how else does partying really affect your body? Let’s discuss.
1. Your Brain
Alcohol interferes with multiple aspects of your brain, including your behavior, mood, and communications pathways. I guess that would explain those drunken texts to your ex and your tearful professions of platonic love to your very best friends right?
When your friends tell you about all of the crazy things you did the night before that you don’t remember doing, that’s because you consumed too much alcohol too quickly and you experienced a blackout, which is a period of time or times where an intoxicated person is unable to recall some or all details of various events.
2. Your Heart
Alcohol can have a variety of different effects on the heart. Binge drinking (consuming an excessive amount of alcohol in a short period of time) as well as regular long-term drinking can alter the speed at which your heart beats. Abnormalities in heart rates are referred to as arrhythmias. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism explains that there are two types of alcohol induced arrhythmias: Atrial fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia.
3. Atrial Fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation occurs when the upper chambers of the heart weakly shudder but are unable to fully contract. Because of this, blood can build up and clot in these upper chambers, and if these blood clots travel from the heart to the brain, a stroke can take place. If these clots travel to other organs, an embolism (a blood vessel blockage) will occur.
4. Ventricular Tachycardia
Ventricular tachycardia affects the lower chambers of the heart. The electrical impulses that keep blood pumping through the heart at the right pace are altered so that they circle through the heart’s ventricles too many times, which causes the ventricles to contract too much. The heart will beat too quickly and won’t fill up with enough blood, and because of that, the rest of the body won’t get supplied with enough blood. Symptoms include dizziness, lightheadedness, unconsciousness, cardiac arrest, and sometimes sudden death.
When someone drinks too much on any occasion, especially when they don’t typically drink, either of these arrhythmias can be triggered.
5. Your Immune System
If you’ve ever wondered why you seem to battle more colds or other infections after you’ve been partying a lot, it’s not entirely because you’ve shared one too many drinks with other people who may have been sick. The National Institutes of Health tell us that alcohol suppresses all aspects of your immune system. The ability of your white blood cells to effectively fight harmful bacteria is decreased, and the production and development of your body’s other immune cells are suppressed. It’s not just as simple as possibly contracting more common colds though either; chronic drinkers are more likely to contract diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis, and there are links between alcohol’s damage to the immune system and an increased likelihood to acquiring an HIV infection. Even drinking an excessive amount on just one occasion can impair your immune system.
6. Your Workout Results
Even drinking alcohol infrequently can negatively impact the results that you’re hoping to see from your workouts.
7. Fat Tissue
When you have alcohol in your system, your body makes it a priority to break down alcohol instead of burning the fats and carbs in your system. On top of that, alcohol can lead to the breakdown of amino acids for fat storage, and increases levels of the stress hormone cortisol which also increases fat storage in the body.
Besides breaking down the amino acids that should be used for muscle recovery, alcohol decreases muscle recovery and performance by dipping into your sleep. Drinking alcohol can decrease how long you sleep as well as the quality of your sleep. Tavis Piattoly, R.D., explains that this can decrease your human growth hormone production (which is very important for building muscle) by up to seventy percent
9. Water and Nutrients
Any type of alcohol irritates the lining of the stomach to some degree, and this can reduce your capacity to absorb nutrients. It also increases the frequency at which you have to pee. Dr. Brian R. Christie estimates that for each gram of ethanol you consume, you release ten milliliters of urine, which is only about nine and a half ounces for two beers. Even just two percent dehydration can hurt endurance and performance.
So before you hit the town for a night out, think about how your body will be affected. If you know that you’ll be having more than one or two drinks, follow each alcoholic drink with a full glass of water, and eat some food before you go out so that you aren’t drinking on an empty stomach. Most importantly, drink responsibly and plan out your safe transportation and sleeping arrangements prior to drinking.
By: Kayla Harwick