At the beginning of 2019, do you find yourself evaluating your life and health? Are you brainstorming resolutions, the things you want to do differently next year? This is an important time to look at your lifestyle habits and determine what gets to stay and what needs to go. Setting goals to improve your overall health is necessary to achieve the life you want. As you consider your diet, exercise, and sleep habits, also evaluate your alcohol consumption.

Poor Alcohol Habits

Poor alcohol habits include binge drinking, heavy alcohol use, and unhealthy alcohol use. For men, binge drinking means consuming five or more alcoholic beverages in a two hour period. For women, the minimum is four drinks. This brings the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels up to 0.08 g/dL. Heavy alcohol use includes binge drinking for a minimum of five days in one month. 

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends a limitation of four drinks in one day and no more than 14 drinks in one week for men between the ages of 21 and 64. Women and older men should not consume more than three drinks in one day and seven drinks in one week. Anything above these limits denotes unhealthy alcohol use. Drinking alcohol at any time is especially dangerous if you plan to drive or operate heavy machinery, are pregnant, have a medical condition that is aggravated by alcohol, or take medication that negatively interacts with alcohol. Even if you have a designated driver, have not received medical advice against consuming alcohol, or do not binge drink, alcohol still affects your overall health.

Results of Alcohol Consumption

Unhealthy alcohol use currently stands as the number three cause of preventable deaths in the United States. Alcohol consumption is known for causing illness, disease, injury, and death. It can negatively affect your digestive system and cause weight gain, ulcers, hemorrhoids, and also increases your risk for many types of cancer, including colon cancer. Heavy alcohol consumption often leads to liver disease and destroys your body’s ability to use and regulate insulin. Almost immediately, alcohol can disrupt your body’s central nervous system. 

One of the first signs of drinking too much is slurred speech and difficulty balancing. But over time, damage to the frontal lobe can occur altering your judgment, emotional control, and leading to memory loss. Heart disease is common in people who frequently indulge in alcoholic beverages. The more alcohol you consume over time, the higher your risk for developing high blood pressure, heart failure, heart attack, and stroke.  

Alcohol Screening

The United States Preventive Services Task Force has recommended primary care physicians perform an alcohol screening to determine unhealthy drinking habits in adult men and women. If your doctor doesn’t bring up alcohol use, then you should. Your drinking habits need to be addressed before your habit becomes an addiction and causes a host of health problems. If you want help managing your alcohol consumption, counseling is available. As you talk to your doctor about your drinking habits, you’ll learn how your limitation may actually free you from a risk of heart disease, cancer, and many digestive problems. 

 If you are fit into the category of unhealthy or heavy alcohol use and are ready to make a change, contact GI Associates & Endoscopy Center today. We have three convenient locations in Mississippi. Our team of GI specialists can help you get on the right track and evaluate your risk for several illnesses or diseases associated with alcohol consumption. Let 2019 be the year you take your health seriously by limiting your use of alcohol.

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