Health Dangers of Binge Drinking

By Dr. Okechukwu Amako, MBBS (Ibadan)
Tip Image
Alcohol affects one's health in many ways and has been linked to health conditions such as liver diseases (alcoholic hepatitis and liver cirrhosis for example), hypertension and heart disease from high blood lipids (fats). Many of these health conditions result gradually from years of constant alcohol consumption.

While the above health conditions diminish the quality of life of the affected individual as the years go by, there is another havoc alcohol can wreck within minutes to hours of taking it. This happens after binge drinking: the consumption of too many alcoholic drinks in a very short period of time. The immediate health consequences (alcohol poisoning) of this depends on many factors:

-the percentage of alcohol in the drink (alcohol poisoning is likely to occur after binge drinking alcoholic beverages with higher percentages of alcohol)

-the genetic makeup of the person about how his or her body breaks down alcohol

-how long the person has been taking alcohol. First-time drinkers are more likely to suffer alcohol poisoning unlike long-term drinkers whose body systems may have adapted to withstand high quantities of alcohol).

Alcohol poisoning is a common health implication of binge drinking and usually occurs in first-time drinkers and in people whose genetic makeup have a low tolerance to alcohol (unfortunately, there's no way to know this before you start drinking). Binge drinking is a common practice especially on campuses and during parties in night clubs and so on. But it is also done by chronic alcohol users who need higher quantities of alcohol to achieve the same level of pleasure they used to get with lower quantities initially.

Alcohol poisoning from binge drinking can lead to coma and death in a short period of time if one doesn't recognize the early signs and ask for help to get medical treatment immediately. The following are danger signs after binge drinking:

1. Vomiting after the drink. Alcohol irritates the stomach, especially an empty one. If this vomiting is severe, the person loses a lot of fluid (water) and this can affect the kidneys.

2. With so much fluid loss, the affected person becomes dizzy and confused. Their breathing can become slow or irregular.

3. High levels of alcohol in the blood due to binge drinking can cause seizures in the affected person which predisposes him or her to injuries from falls during the seizure.

4. Alcohol poisoning can depress one's unconscious ability to gasp for breath; this can predispose the person to aspiration (food from their stomach coming up and entering their lungs), and suffocation.

5. Together with depression of the respiratory system, the effect of high blood alcohol level on heart function can result in coma and death.

The most severe health impacts (including death) of alcohol poisoning from binge drinking occur within 24 hours of the binge drinking. Survival past 24 hours means the person has a higher chance of recovery, therefore the most important medical help should come as soon as one notices the initial danger signs such as vomiting.

Cutting down significantly the amount of alcohol taken in a day or entirely stopping alcohol consumption is the best way to prevent conditions like alcoholic liver diseases. And by extension, it is the best way to avoid the temptation of binge drinking.

If you found this tip useful, don't forget to share with your friends and family with the share button on the top right of this page.

For more advice and help, feel free to consult a doctor.
Copy and paste this url anywhere:
Published Thursday, June 1st 2017

Put your Doctor in your pocket

Stay healthy on the go. Get health advice from over 750 doctors, daily health tips, personal menstrual cycle planner etc, all from the comfort of your mobile phone.

Screenshots of the app