Ethanol and Disease | Health Eagle

Ethanol and Disease

by Lori Sciame July 25th, 2011 | Diseases
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Can you guess the disease that can make you lose your job, your friends, your self-esteem, and even your family? Here’s a statistic that may help you figure it out. Currently in the United States, 17.6 million people suffer from a form of this disease.

Still don’t know? Well, the roots of the illness stem from the sustained consumption of liquids infused with this substance – ethanol. Simply put – those that suffer from this illness are addicted to drinking.

You probably have guessed by now, the answer is alcoholism.

Almost everyone has been touched in some way by this disease. Maybe you have a parent, a sibling, a co-worker, or even a spouse who has suffered because of alcoholism. This disease does not discriminate. It affects people of both sexes, and of all economic backgrounds – the young, the middle-aged, and the old.

In my part of the country, alcohol consumption goes hand in hand with almost every occasion. Around here, if you host a birthday party, a holiday party, a graduation celebration, a class reunion, or even a Baptism…guests expect some form of alcohol to be served. Maybe it’s our German heritage, but Wisconsin is notorious for drinking. Sad to say, but our largest institution of higher learning, the University of Wisconsin – Madison, regularly makes the list of top party schools in the country.

Because of the availability of alcohol, as well as the social pressure to drink, many in my community have struggled with alcohol addiction. Several can be classified as “functioning” alcoholics. They make it to work most days, yet some days they have hangovers, and other days they can’t concentrate, because they need a drink. Others are “binge drinkers,” who only get drunk on the weekends; however, they drink to such a degree that they black out.

Are these people bad people? They are not. They suffer from a disease, just as someone suffers from diabetes or from multiple sclerosis. They need compassion and help, not disdain.How can you tell if someone you know and love is an alcoholic? According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), Alcoholism is a disease with four main features:

• Craving – a strong need to drink.
• Loss of control – not being able to stop drinking once you’ve begun.
• Physical dependence – withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating or shakiness after stopping drinking.
• Tolerance – the need to drink greater amounts of alcohol in order to get “high.”

And if they are an alcoholic, you need to know that the NIAAA states that drinking can increase the risk of certain cancers. It can cause damage to organs. It can cause birth defects, and it increases the risk of death from car crashes.

As you can see, alcoholics damage their body with repeated consumption of beer, wine, and mixed drinks. The key thing to remember is that many may begin drinking innocently enough, but soon, drinking can turn to an addiction – the disease called, alcoholism.

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All health and medical information is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the medical advice or treatment of your healthcare professional.