Diseases Caused by Alcohol Abuse

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Most people associate alcohol abuse with two diseases. The first is alcoholism, which is a syndrome of dependency that some believe is inherited. The other would be cirrhosis, a disease that can be brought on by excessive alcohol consumption. But there are a number of other diseases and conditions that can develop, including pancreatitis, hypertension, osteoporosis and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.

Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis is essentially a scarring of the liver. Healthy tissue of the liver is replaced with fibrosis, or scar tissue. As this scar tissue builds up, it prevents the liver from functioning properly, which can lead to bile build-up in the blood. Clotting may lessen and blood pressure may rise. Some of the most common symptoms of cirrhosis include lack of appetite, accompanied by weight loss, nausea, fatigue, jaundice, cognitive impairment (confusion and lack of concentration), tremors, internal bleeding and coma.

Pancreatitis

Another common disease associated with alcohol abuse is pancreatitis, characterized by an inflammation of the pancreas and, much like cirrhosis, ultimate scarring of the organ. This scarring affects the production of insulin and the way in which sugar is released into the bloodstream. It often presents itself with severe abdominal pain that is typically accompanied by vomiting or nausea, the sweats and a fever.

Hypertension

While more of a condition than a disease, hypertension, or high blood pressure, is another result of alcohol abuse. This condition is distinguished by essentially too much blood being forced through the arteries, which can damage the walls of these arteries and lead to a stroke, heart disease, heart attack, angina, pulmonary edema and an aneurysm. Though high blood pressure is often seen as a hereditary condition, it can present itself in someone without a family history and even worsen hypertension in someone predisposed to it through genetics.

Osteoporosis

One of the most surprising diseases caused by alcohol abuse is osteoporosis, which involves the thinning of the bones or loss of bone mass. This depletion makes bones more brittle. While it is most common in women, it can affect men, and excessive use of alcohol can diminish the vitamins and minerals needed for healthy bones, as well as but exacerbate the effects of someone developing osteoporosis.

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

This brain disorder is a serious condition that can be caused by alcohol abuse. Essentially, this condition is a combination of two disorders that develop from a vitamin deficiency and an actual change in the brain. Typically, people who suffer from Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome will experience blurred vision, memory loss, confusion and problems with mobility, usually isolated to the legs. Sadly, a portion of this syndrome (that which involves the brain) can be permanent.

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