Effects Alcohol Has on Organ Systems

The Effect??™s Alcohol Has on Organ SystemsAbstractIn the following paper that you will be reading discusses how the gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and nervous system functions.

It identifies the organs within that organ system and it describes how each system is effected by a life style choice; alcohol.Alcohol is probably the most common recreational drug. It??™s become an accepted part of our lives, and can be found all over the world. The concern over the adverse effects of alcohol developed during the ninetieth century (Stimmel, 2002).

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Mild to moderate drinking is not as harmful as excessive consumption. The excessive consumption and dependency of alcohol is associated with several adverse psychological and physical effects (Stimmel, 2002). It has been estimated that approximately ninety percent of people consume it at some age and thirty percent develop alcohol related disorders.

Alcohol dependence is observed in ten percent of men and three to five percent of women (Yazan, Francesca, n.d.).

It does not digest in the stomach like most foods or liquids; it goes straight into the blood stream affecting every body system and many organs. (Stimmel, 2002). Due to excessive drinking, the three main organ systems that are affected are as follows, the digestive, cardiovascular, and the nervous system. The digestive tract is a tubular structure starting from the mouth that extends to the anus. It consists of the oral cavity, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, large intestine, small intestine, rectum and the anus.

The liver, pancreas, and salivary glands are the accessory glands. Inside this tube is a lining called the mucosa. In the mouth, stomach, and small intestine, the mucosa contains tiny glands that produce juices to help digest foods .The liver and the pancreas produce digestive juices that reach the intestine through small tubes. In addition, parts of other organ systems (for instance, nerves and blood vessels) play a major role in the digestive system (Stimmel, 2002). When you chew and swallow food it travels though your esophagus (the passageway that connects your mouth to your stomach).

In the stomach, strong acids and enzymes digest, or break down the food into small particles, called proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. When it leaves your stomach, these food particles enter the small intestine. This is a long, continuous tube that contracts, or squeezes, to push the food along through it. As the small intestine continues to digest your food, it absorbs nutrients that your body uses for energy, growth, and repairs.

When food reaches the end of the small intestine, almost all of its nutrients have been absorbed. After absorption whats left is mostly water and waste products. This enters into the large intestine, or colon, which is also a long tube.

Its main job is to remove water from the waste products as they pass through and recycle this water back to your body. After traveling through this area, the waste is held at the end of the colon in the rectum. It will then leave your body through the anus as stool when you have a bowel movement (Bode, C, Bode,J , n.d.

). Excessive consumption of alcohol has a major effect on the liver because it is the main organ that processes alcohol and the largest organ in the body. One of the livers major functions is to get rid of poisons that enter the body (Maher, n.d.). Without a liver, you cannot live.

Alcohol related liver damage can be divided into three categories. One is a fatty liver, which occurs in almost all heavy drinkers. Fat in the liver is normal, but if fat makes up more than 5%-10% of the weight of your liver, you may have this (Bode,C, Bode, J, n.d.).

It is reversible and is not believed to lead to more serious damage. Another disorder is alcohol hepatitis, which is characterized by widespread inflammation and destruction of the tissues in the liver. The scar tissue may begin to replace healthy liver tissue (Maher, n.d.). The symptoms of this include fever, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of your eyes), and abdominal pain.

This can be severely fatal, but if you stop drinking it can be reversible. It occurs in fifty percent of heavy drinkers (Maher, n.d.). The last one is alcoholic cirrhosis, which is a serious advanced form of liver damage. It occurs when the cells of the liver are damaged and can??™t repair themselves (Maher, n.d.

). Live cells die and scar tissue forms. When scar tissue builds up, blood can??™t flow through the liver properly. The primary function of the liver is to filter and clean the blood supply. When this tissue is scarred, it keeps the blood from flowing normally causing a build up poisons and wastes (Bode C & Bode J, n.d.

). The symptoms include: loss of appetite, nausea, jaundice, abdominal pain, fever, ascites (abnormal fluid buildup), confusion, thirst and fatigue. When liver cells have been damaged nothing can be done to repair the liver.

The consumption of alcohol can interfere with the stomach in several ways. Examples include changes in gastric acid secretion, cause acute gastric mucosal injury, and interfere with gastric and intestinal motility (Bode C & Bode J, n.d.). It causes damage to the muscle layers of the stomach wall, can decrease GI smooth muscle contraction. Alcohol causes damage to the muscles around the stomach. This damage changes how long it takes food to go through the organs (Boggan, n.d.

). Alcohol consumption also affects the small intestine, which is the organ where the most nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream. It causes interference with the absorption of nutrients, enzymes needed for digestion, transportation of nutrients from the intestine to the bloodstream, and a few other things (Stimmel, 2002). It causes mucosal damage which can cause erosions and bleeding and a possibility of overgrowth of normal bacteria (Bode C & Bode J, n.d). Chronic alcohol abuses causes damage to the oral cavity and the esophagus as well. It can cause inflammation of the tongue and mouth, increased tooth decay, gum disease, and even loss of teeth. It causes impairment to the movement of the esophagus.

Some diseases are gastrointestinal bleeding, gastritis, oral cancer etc. (Alcohol and the Digestive System/ Gastrointestinal Tract, n.d.

). Another organ system that is affected is the cardiovascular system. The cardiovascular system, one of the most important of the human body systems, consists of organs that are responsible for carrying out many of the important cardiovascular system functions.

The system consists of organs like the heart, the spleen and the blood vessels that are spread throughout the body (Zakhari, n.d.). Transportation is one of the main functions of the cardiovascular system.

It transports oxygen from the lungs to various cells of the body. It is responsible for the transportation of nutrients, and carbon dioxide from the cells to the lungs. The cardiovascular system also protects the body and its organs from infection and diseases by producing white blood cells. It also protects the body from excessive blood loss thought the process of blood clotting during an injury. The last function that is important is the regulation of hydrogen ions in the body, the body temperature, and body heat, and to regulate the salt and water content of cells which maintains homeostasis of the body (Cardiovascular System and Alochol, n.d.

).The heart, blood vessels, the spleen and blood each perform individual functions. The heart performs the function of a muscular pump (Zakhari, n.d.). It expands and contracts to pump blood into the blood vessels and the rest of your body. The deoxygenated blood is carried to the right side of the heart which pumps it into the lungs where blood absorbs more oxygen.

This oxygenated blood moves to the left side of the heart which pumps it into the blood stream and is carried to the various body parts (Cardiovascular System, n.d.). Chronic alcohol consumption can lead to enlargement of the heart, known as cardiomyopathy (Zakhari, n.d.). This heart condition is only seen in one to two percent of excessive drinkers (Stimmel, 2002). It can cause congestive heart failure and death.

It is characterized by low cardiac output and as mentioned above, enlargement of the heart muscle. Alcohol can also cause cardiac arrhythmias (an alteration in the rhythm of the heartbeat). They lead to fluctuations in the supply of blood to the body and brain, thus potentially affecting the function of these organs. Cardiac arrhythmias have been observed after both acute intake of large amounts of ethanol and after chronic alcohol consumption (Zakhari, n.d.

). For example, ethanol intake over a long weekend may result in electrophysiological anomalies referred to as “holiday heart syndrome”, whereas sudden cardiac death has been associated with alcoholism (Stimmel, 2002). A number of hypotheses have been advanced to explain the disturbances in cardiac rhythms.

These include scarring of the heart muscle, alterations in the chemicals, which influence heart function such as electrolytes and catecholamines, and alterations in the amount of oxygen coming to the heart (Zakhari, n.d.). Excessive intake of alcohol can increase your risk of having a stroke.

The last body system that is affected by alcohol is the nervous system. The nervous system is a highly specialized network that contains billions of neurons and is responsible for controlling and coordinating all the functions of the body. The nervous system consists of two components, the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system (The Affects Alcohol Has on the Nervous System, n.

d.). The central nervous system consists of the brain and the spinal cord, while the peripheral nervous system consists of all the neurons of the body, accepting those found in the brain and spinal cord. The nervous system is a network that controls and coordinates all the activities by transmitting messages or signals from the brain to the different regions of the body and vice versa (Yazan &Francesca, n.d.).

The nervous system works with the help of nerves or neurons, which conduct the signals or impulses between the two components of the nervous system. The neurons can be of different types, such as sensory and motor neurons. In addition to neurons, glial cells, which surround and support the neurons, also participate in the transmission of signals (Boggan, n.d.

). The sensory neurons generate and transmit the stimuli received from the sensory organs like the eye, nose or skin, to the central nervous system, i.e. to the brain and the spinal cord.

The brain in turn processes these stimuli and sends them back to the other parts of the body telling them to react to a particular type of stimulus (Boggan, n.d.). The motor neurons are responsible for receiving signals from the brain and spinal cord and transmitting them to the other organs of the body. The effects alcohol has on central nervous system depend on the duration and the quantity of the alcohol consumption. They also vary from person to person on the basis of the tolerance capacity.

These changes are not stable as they continuously keep on changing. The cells become semipermeable to alcohol. These unhealthy cells weaken the nervous system a lot. Also, the high tolerance level of a person to the alcohol makes him more prone to various kinds of infections (The Effects Alcohol Has on the Nervous System, n.d.). Severe consequences like heart attacks, brain strokes and dementia may also appear. Alcohol leaves its effects on the reticular formation, the spinal cord, cerebral cortex and the cerebellum as well.

It gets dissolved in the lipids and other water solutions (Yazan &Francesca, n.d.). All these, result into many neurochemical imbalances. The chemicals that are affected are described below.

Serotonin, which is neurotransmitter is a ???feel-good??? molecule and is very intimately related to your sense of well-being, which is tied to depression. An individual with low levels of serotonin is more likely to become depressed. This is one of the neurotransmitters that alcohol affects. It actually increases the serotonin levels in the brain, which is one of the reasons for the addicting effect of alcohol. Another chemical that??™s affected is dopamine. Dopamine is another excitatory neurotransmitter and is also considered to be a ???feel-good??? molecule. One of the effects of alcohol is to increase dopamine levels, which also contributes to the addictive effect of alcohol (Boggan, n.d.

). Another chemical affected is GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain.

Alcohol increases GABA activity, which in turns inhibits brain activity (The Effects Alochol Has on the Nervous system, n.d.).

It also increases the effects on the production of the beta-endorphin, which is an anti-pain agent (Boggan, n.d.). Alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows the function of the central nervous system. It actually blocks some of the messages trying to get to the brain. This alters a persons perceptions, emotions, movement, vision, and hearing (Yazan & Francesca, n.

d.). Alcohol is a substance that has impacts on psychological and medical effects. As discussed above, it has several effects on the organ systems in the body resulting in severe damage in some cases and not so severe in others. ReferencesAlcohol and the Digestive System/ Gastrointestinal. (n.d.

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