Daily Archives: 01/02/2016

Total body annihilation

So it’s the first of February and for those of you who have achieved Dry January – well done!!  I’m sure the idea of a drink is front and centre of your mind to celebrate your success but before you do please reconsider.  This was a news piece that was featured on New Years Day by The Mail and I’m mentioning it again here because I think it’s important.  I had always suspected that booze impacted every body system & function and this piece confirmed that booze really does cause total body annihilation.

booze annihilationMany of these things I’ve talked about in individual blog posts and you can read the full physical and psychological impact posts via the links or category tags at the top of the blog.  What I am going to feature in this post are the bits of research that I haven’t covered so far but that this article does – things I *knew* and *felt* anecdotally from my own experiences but couldn’t back up.


Heavy drinkers tend to get more chest infections and pneumonia as the are poorly nourished, Professor Sheron added.

This is because liquor weakens the immune system, making becoming ill more likely.

A Danish study found men who drank more than 50 drinks a week were 80 per cent more likely to be taken to hospital with pneumonia than those who indulged in up to six drinks a week, after taking into account factors like smoking and weight.

People who drink alcohol also aspirate, breathing in stomach acid, food or drink from the gastrointestinal tract into the voice box.

‘There are many rockstar fatalities due to people inhaling their own vomit,’ he said.


Alcohol is a toxin and is directly toxic to the heart muscle cells, Dr Klaus Witte, a cardiologist at Leeds General Infirmary told MailOnline.

If a person drinks their heart cells die and sometimes fibrous tissue forms in its place which cannot contract as well.

They develop alcohol-related cardio myopathy, where the heart muscle becomes weak and thin and is unable to pump blood around the body, depriving tissues of oxygen.

This results in shortness of breath, tiredness, an irregular heartbeat and swelling in the legs and feet. 

In severe cases, it can lead to heart failure. 

Dr Witte continued: ‘The heart has an amazing ability to repair itself, but if you regularly drink, you will damage your heart.’

How much a person needs to drink and on what basis depends on their genetics, on how sensitive their body is to ethanol.

But across populations, drinking more than 14 units a week for women and 21 units for men will cause damage to heart cells.

There’s also such a thing as ‘holiday heart syndrome’ – where a person goes on holiday and binge drinks and comes back with atrial fibrillation.

Atrial fibrillation is a heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate. 

This can happen even to people who are extremely fit, Dr Witte said. 

He said: ‘When I was working in Wales I saw many Welsh rugby players who drank 16 pints a night and then they’d wake up with atrial fibrillation.

‘It’s not very common – if everyone who went to Ibiza came back with this problem they wouldn’t do it – but it does happen.’ 

 And the end result is the same between binge drinking and steady drinking, he said.

Binge drinking increases the likelihood of high blood pressure, as the blood vessels stiffen, causing the pressure inside the veins and arteries to rise.

It also triggers the release of certain stress hormones that constrict the blood vessels.

Having high blood pressure is one of the major risk factors for heart attacks and strokes. 

Drinking also affects people’s sleep, which further raises blood pressure.

Dr Witte said: ‘Alcohol stops you sleeping properly, your more likely to snore. This obstruction or lack of ventilation, causes stress hormones to be released.

The youngest patient I nursed and who died because of alcohol was in her mid to late 30’s and died from alcohol induced cardiac failure 🙁


Heavy drinking on a regular basis has been found to double the risk of kidney disease, according to the National Kidney Foundation.

The kidneys filter toxins and waste products from the blood, but alcohol changes the kidneys so they are less able to carry out this function.

The organs also keep the right amount of water in the body by regulating levels of salts in the blood and its pH. 

Alcohol dehydrates the body, and the lack of water can effect how many of the body’s organs work.

Drinking also leads to high blood pressure, which is a common cause of kidney disease. 

More than two drinks a day increases the chance of having high blood pressure.

Binge drinking can sometimes cause a sudden drop in kidney function known as ‘acute kidney injury’, as it causes a person’s blood alcohol levels to rocket.

 When this happens, a person needs dialysis (where they are connected to a machine which filters their blood) – until their kidney function returns to normal. 

This usually goes away in time, but in some cases, it can lead to lasting damage. 


Drinking regularly increases the likelihood of brittle bones, known medically as osteoporosis, as it causes them to become thin and weak, according to Sarah Leyland, senior and helpline manager at the National Osteoporosis Society.

This means people are more likely to break their bones, or their fractures won’t heal as well. 

‘There is a direct affect that alcohol has on bone remodelling,’ she told MailOnline.

In the body, there is a normal cycle of bones being built and being broken down and absorbed.

Alcohol upsets this balance by suppressing the bone building cells, called osteoblasts. 

‘It means you’re getting less bone tissue. They get finer and thinner, lacking an outer shell.

‘This happens anyway due to old age, but alcohol causes it too.’

‘Fractures are the end point of osteoporosis, your bones break and don’t heal as well.’

She added that alcohol intake is one of the main factors doctors consider when they are assessing a person’s risk of their bones fracturing.

People who drink alcohol also tend to be malnourished, which can contribute to brittle, weak bones.

Ms Leyland added: ‘In older people who are at risk of falling, alcohol can be enjoyable but it makes you unsteady, makes you get up in the night.’

To prevent osteoporosis, she advises eating a well balanced and calcium rich diet, with plenty of vitamin D and exercise.  

You can read the full article here.  I’m not trying to be a Debbie Downer on you I promise but booze is not the benign harmless drug we think it is and it plays absolute havoc with our health as this excellent video from The Guardian shows:

Please go gently and try to stick to under the recommended guidance and if you are struggling consider stopping again yes?  Or email me 🙂