Historically, alcohols were fermented for medicinal purposes. Although, while they still have their medicinal characteristics, the use of alcohol has evolved worldwide is now considered a basic drink that most people (old and young) consume daily in drinks, spirits, wine, and beer. The restriction on the consumption of alcohol is getting thinner as the day goes by and is currently being abused in every part of the world.
Ethanol (ethyl alcohol) is the ingredient found in alcoholic beverages. Alcohols are used for a lot of purposes; medical practitioners use it to disinfect needles before a needle stick and before surgery, industrialists use it as industrial solvents and also for fuel for the internal combustion engine, nutritionists use it in the production of alcoholic beverages mainly for refreshment purposes.
Generally, we consume alcohol to relax, socialize, for sedative purposes to feel more relaxed and celebrate, but alcohols are intoxicating especially when they are consumed excessively, it can be easily addictive because when taken in, it activates the pleasure centers of the brain similar to the ones that are activated when we take hard drugs like cocaine and marijuana, which makes us crave for it even when it is out of our system and causes addictive behavior.
Although moderate intake of alcohol possibly reduces the risk of diabetes and might also reduce the risk of ischemic stroke and heart disease. Some of the disadvantages of heavy alcohol consumption are:
- It influences the use of drugs
- It increases your risk of developing cancer such as breast cancer and lung cancer, but most especially liver cancer
- It is one of the leading cause of heart diseases and increases the likelihood of heart attack
- It causes some addicts to be overweight or obese
- It weakens the immune system
Addiction to alcohol affects people’s lifestyle and could cause a loss of jobs and some valuables. It is also one of the leading causes of divorce in marriages today.
After a night or day of excessive consumption of alcohol, most people lose consciousness for hours, sometimes days. The term used to describe this period is ‘hangover’.
The hangover was first described as paramada 3000 years ago, a post-drinking situation coupled with feelings of thirst and severe ache all over the body.
Hangovers usually take 24 hours period to feel the full aftereffect of heavy drinking, they usually develop when the effect of the alcohol taken has completely worn off and the blood alcohol level is back to zero.
some common symptoms of being hungover includes:
- Nausea and vomiting. Alcohol sometimes causes inflammation in the stomach lining, vomiting helps to reduce the pain caused by the alcohol
- Intense Abdominal ache. Alcohol irritates the digestive system and causes the stomach to produce more acid than usual which causes inflammation and internal bleeding especially in cases of heavy drinkers.
- High sensitivity to light and sound. Alcohol weakens the muscles in the eyes and dilates ocular blood vessel which makes them larger and reddish and in turn makes the eyes extremely sensitive to light
- Muscle weakness and feeling very tired. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system, and due to excess loss of body fluids reduces blood sugar which makes us feel weak, shaky, and drowsy
- Feeling very irritable and having rapid heartbeats. Alcohol affects the level of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain and induces anxiety which can last for several hours
- Dry mouth and dehydration. Alcohol causes dispensation of fluids through your renal system at a very fast rate which causes the intense dehydration you feel.
- Dizziness and sporadic shaking. Feeling dizzy is a reaction to the intoxication that causes a state of vertigo and nausea.
Common ways to cure a hangover
- Hydrate your body to replace fluids that have been lost through your renal system
- Get enough sleep
- Take sufficient food and beverages to help replace lost nutrient and essential body calorie e.g. banana, honey, pickles, eggs, orange juice, coconut water
- Take a pain reliever like ibuprofen (montril) and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Eat a healthy breakfast
- Avoid taking an alcoholic beverage the next morning
A severe hangover may indicate alcohol poisoning and needs emergency treatment. when you drink alcohol, your liver produces a toxin called acetaldehyde which is responsible for the hangover you experience afterward. Women are more prone to experiencing hangovers than men due to their low level of alcohol tolerance.
Another big contributor to severe hangover symptoms is heredity. People who have a family history of alcoholism tend to experience more severe hangover symptoms than other people who don’t.