Many office workers love to unwind after work by hanging out with friends and having a few drinks. But if you drink too much, it can affect your health. Getting a bit drunk diminishes self-control and blurs consciousness. Those who drink heavily for a long time may develop chronic diseases, one of the worst of which is cirrhosis. So how can you enjoy a drink or two responsibly and avoid developing the dreaded disease? First, we need to find out more about cirrhosis then look at a few tips on how to drink safely.
Getting to know cirrhosis
Cirrhosis is an end-stage liver disease condition caused by chronic inflammation and loss of liver cells. If not treated, it reaches the point where the liver ceases to function normally. More complications ensue and eventually it stops working altogether, resulting in liver failure. Cirrhosis can arise from many causes, including: hepatitis B, C, D; long-term use of certain medications; bile duct
obstruction; genetic diseases such as Wilson’s Disease; and exposure to certain toxins that accumulate in the body. Probably the most commonly known cause of cirrhosis is heavy alcohol consumption over a long time span. Drinking alcohol stimulates the accumulation of fat in the liver, leading to inflammation. Normally, the body heals itself but when the accumulation of fat from alcohol continues for an extended period, the body becomes less and less able to recover quickly or recover at all. The result is fibrosis of the liver which reduces the organ’s efficiency.
What are the symptoms of cirrhosis?
The first phase of cirrhosis rarely shows symptoms or only non-specific symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia and itchy skin. But as the condition worsens, complications such as jaundice, swelling of various organs, weight loss and vomiting blood start to appear. If these symptoms occur, you should immediately see a doctor to check for any abnormalities.
How to drink without harming your health
Some of those who like to socialize over drinks may not be able to quit drinking immediately. However, if they can control their drinking to meet specified criteria, they can avoid or reduce the chance of developing cirrhosis. Some methods are as follows:
· Set a limit of drinks per day – Different criteria determine the amount of alcohol in each type of drink. Men should drink no more than two servings while women should drink no more than one serving per day. The serving size depends on the type of beverage – 360 ml for beer, 150 ml for wine, 45 ml for spirits.
· Choose the type of alcohol – Studies show that drinking wine in moderation can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease as it contains flavonoids that strengthen the body's immune system and the heart and blood vessels. Beer has not been found to have health benefits and it is also very high in calories.
· Drinking advice – Sip water or low-calorie beverages such as zero sugar sodas in between sips of alcohol so the body doesn’t dehydrate. It is also a good idea to eat something with your drink as the food will reduce the rate at which your body absorbs the alcohol.
Although there are ways to drink safely and there is research to support the notion that there are certain types of alcoholic beverages have benefits, drinking too much always has negative impacts, starting with diminished consciousness and impaired decision-making. Therefore, it’s best to consume alcohol consciously and in measured volumes. Moreover, as always, maintaining good general health by getting enough rest, exercising regularly, and eating healthily are also effective ways to keep all diseases at bay.
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- Mayo Clinic
· Corporate Communication, Faculty of Medicine, Ramathibodi Hospital
· Bumrungrad Hospital
· Paolo Hospital