Alcohol and its effect on the body

Alcohol and its effect on the body Chris Humphreys

How is alcohol absorbed in the body?

An alcoholic drink passes down the esophagus through the stomach and into the small intestine. A small amount of alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream in the stomach but most of it enters the blood through the walls of the small intestine.

Alcohol is diluted by body fluids. The concentration of a measure of alcohol in the blood will depend on how much fluid the body contains. The smaller a person's build, the higher the concentration.

The bloodstream transports the alcohol around the body where it is absorbed into tissues.

How does the body dispose of alcohol?

Alcohol is detoxified and removed from the blood as it passes through the liver. This prevents the alcohol from accumulating and destroying cells and organs.

Before alcohol reaches the liver it is distributed throughout the body in the bloodstream, affecting the brain and other tissues.

A minute amount of alcohol escapes from the body unchanged in the breath, in sweat and in urine.

How quickly does the liver process alcohol?

The liver can process only a certain amount of alcohol per hour. The speed of the process varies from person to person.

Alcohol is absorbed in the body faster than it is processed by the liver. In general, it takes 30 to 45 minutes for the amount of alcohol in the blood to peak after consuming one standard unit of alcohol.

The liver processes about half a pint of beer, one small glass (120ml) of wine, or a single measure of spirits in an hour. The processing time may be longer depending on the strength of the drink.

Drinking more than one unit of alcohol per hour causes a backlog in the body's system leading to intoxication.

If alcohol is consumed faster than the body can process it, the blood and breath
alcohol concentration will increase.

If only small amounts of alcohol are consumed, the liver can keep up with the rate the alcohol enters the blood stream and the alcohol concentration will not increase.

How does alcohol get into breath

Alcohol, in proportion to the concentration in the blood, transfers from the blood into the air sacs in the lungs in much the same way as carbon dioxide. It is then exhaled in the  breath.

How does alcohol affect the brain      

Alcohol is a drug affecting the central nervous system. Alcohol is a depressant, and depending on dose, can be a mild tranquilizer or a general anesthetic.

At very low doses it suppresses inhibitory brain functions acting as a stimulant but as concentration increases, it suppresses other brain functions resulting in slurred speech, an unsteady gate, disturbed sensory perceptions, and inability to react quickly.

At high concentrations it produces general anesthesia so a highly intoxicated person will be in a coma. If the alcohol concentration in the blood is sufficiently high, it will inhibit breathing and can cause death.

Can eating food affect alcohol absorption?

Research indicates that alcohol taken with a meal is absorbed about three times more slowly than when consumed on an empty stomach.

Does alcohol affect women differently to men?

Women's bodies have a smaller percentage of fluids than men and women's stomachs absorb less alcohol than men's.

When a woman consumes the same amount of alcohol as a man, more alcohol reaches the bloodstream and concentrations of alcohol in the blood are higher.

As a result, women are more susceptible to liver disease, heart muscle damage, and brain damage.