How does alcohol affect the brain?


There are several damaging effects of alcohol that are seen both to the brain as well as the body. Heavy drinking can affect organs of the body such as the liver and cause great damage to the brain as well. Impaired thinking and slow reaction times are some of the immediate effects of damage to the brain. Other problems such as difficulty in walking, a blurry vision and problems with speech is a result of brain damage caused by alcohol consumption.

Those that are habitual drinkers and drink excessively can also lose their memory that may even lead to debilitating conditions. Of course, there are several factors that can easily affect the brain when a person drinks. Women and men react differently to the same levels of alcohol. Apart from this, other factors can affect the brain are

* The age at which the person first started drinking alcohol.
* How long has the person been drinking?
* Whether the person is a habitual drinker or a social / occasional drinker?
* Does the person have any family history of drinking and the genetic background of the person?
* The general level of fitness and their existing health and medical conditions.

The danger of a blackout in both men and women

Research shows that drinkers who consume extremely high levels of alcohol very quickly (also known as binge drinking) have a tendency to have blackouts. This is the reason that the college students are also in the risk area as they have a tendency to consume high levels of alcohol. Having a blackout after consumption of drinks is dependent on the individual; therefore, there is really no fixed intake amount of alcohol that can cause the blackout.

It has been shown in research that most men experience blackouts if they consume five or more drinks in two hours. While the women will tend to have the blackout after four or more drinks during the same duration of time. This study proves that women are more vulnerable than men as far as damage to brain and even organs are concerned, in comparison to men.

The effects of the alcohol on the brain

Those that consume large amounts of alcohol will find that they usually suffer from thiamine deficiency. Since those that have alcohol, have poor dietary habits and poor nutrition, thiamine is deficient in the foods. Thiamine is also known as vitamin B1 and is required by all tissues of the body, especially by the brain for correct functioning. In the US many cereals and breads are even fortified with thiamine.

When the brain becomes deficient in thiamine, people can be afflicted by brain disorders such as Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome or WKS. The symptoms of WKS involve mental confusion, paralysis of the nerves, especially the eye nerves and problems with coordinating the various muscle groups. Another more persistent form of WKS is known as Korsakoffs psychosis that disables a person from learning new things and memory problems. In fact, patients who have this problem find that they have severe problems in walking and can forget events just after an hour of describing the events.

Those that are in the early stages of this problem may recover when given high doses of thiamine.

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