Wine and beer vary in how much alcohol is contained. Rice wine and whiskey contain up to 40% of the alcohol or more, whereas beer only contains 2-4%. For the body, the alcohol contained in wine or beer is considered poison. It affects not only the liver or a certain organ but also all parts of the body.
Let’s take a look at the information below to help you to have a profound understanding of how long alcohol stays in your system as well as the harmful effects of alcohol on your body, especially the brain and the liver.
How long does alcohol stay in your system?
The process of absorption of alcohol in the body occurs in all sections of the digestive tract, starting right from the mucous membrane in the mouth. Alcohol is there quickly absorbed into the blood and distributed throughout the body. Due to its rapid and thorough distribution, alcohol can affect the entire body, especially the nervous system quickly, even at a low concentration.
If the amount of alcohol in the blood is low, it will reduce the inhibition and cause excitement. If the amount of alcohol in the blood is high, it will have a significant effect on the nervous system, leading to loss of self-control, increased stimulation, slurred speech, and negative reactions. When the blood alcohol concentration is more than 0.35 gr/ 100ml, it can make a healthy person fall into a coma and even die.
When you drink alcohol, two physiological phenomena occur in the body including the rapid alcohol absorption into the blood and the effort of the body to eliminate alcohol to the outside. Alcohol is absorbed directly into the blood without having to go through the digestive process like other foods. Then, alcohol in the blood disperses all over the tissues and organs in the body. The following are details of these two phenomena.
Absorption of alcohol
The small intestine is the section taking place the final food absorption in the gastrointestinal tract; however, it absorbs alcohol most because of its large surface.
For those who do not eat anything but only drink alcohol, 20% – 25% of the alcohol amount in the stomach, and 75%-80% of the alcohol amount is absorbed in the small intestine. Thus, blood alcohol concentration reaches the peak in half an hour to two hours (average from one hour to one hour and a half depending on the amount of alcohol and the last meal).
For those who eat their fills before drinking alcohol, blood alcohol concentration reaches the peak in more than one hour to a maximum of six hours (average from one hour to over two hours).
Elimination of alcohol
The liver is primarily responsible for eliminating up to 95% of the amount of alcohol absorbed from the body through metabolism. The remaining alcohol amount is excreted through breathing, urine, sweat, feces, saliva and so on. Therefore, alcohol accumulates mainly in the liver.
For healthy people, alcohol is metabolized in a relatively consistent ratio, an average of 15 ml per hour. This rate depends on blood alcohol concentration, the condition of liver function, especially for chronic alcoholic drinkers, age, and gender. In addition, metabolism and elimination of alcohol in the body may be affected by the drugs used by the patients.
How does alcohol affect the brain and the liver?
Effects on the brain:
- The nervous system: Alcohol stimulates the activity of gamma-aminobutyric, which results in slower propagation of brain nerve impulses. Therefore, people who use alcohol often do not react more nimbly than ordinary citizens.
- The frontal lobes: When the blood concentration reaches 5g/ 100cc, the frontal lobes will become “drunk” and begin to lose control. Then, under the influence of this phenomenon, your eyesight can decrease gradually.
- Nuclei: Alcohol inhibits the activity of nuclei, which is responsible for alerting when people are in danger. Therefore, when using alcoholic beverages, you will become more reckless.
- Cerebellum: The concentration of alcohol destroys cerebellum. For this reason, you will go stumbling, have difficulty in speaking and react slower.
- Memory: When alcohol blood concentration reaches 15g/ 100c, you start to forget what you did or what happened in the day. At the threshold of 20g/ 100cc, you will suffer from temporary memory loss, so you can only remember about 50% of the short-term events.
- The reflex center of the body: Some important reactive areas will appear coughing, sneezing, runny nose, severe vomiting, etc. If your blood alcohol level exceeds 35g/ 100 cc, you will die.
Effects on the liver:
As mentioned above, to metabolize alcohol, the liver has to work the most so drinking alcohol causes a lot of alcoholic liver disease.
- Decreased liver function: Drinking much alcohol causes the detoxifying function and metabolism of the liver to decline severely. That is why many people drink alcohol for a long time are prone to rash, itching, acne, body heat, loss of appetite, etc. Some people appear increased liver enzymes, which is the early stage of some dangerous alcoholic liver diseases later.
- Fatty liver disease: Alcohol intake increases the ability to mobilize fat from stored tissues, increases carbohydrate and glycerophosphate acid due to decreased liver function, resulting in increased fatty acid ester, thereby increasing triglyceride.
Besides, alcohol also reduces oxidation of fatty acids outside the liver. The excessive drinking of alcohol combined with an unreasonable diet restricts the synthesis of lipoprotein and suppresses the fat elimination in the liver, making fat accumulation in the liver more severe, hence causing fatty liver disease. Most people who drink heavily and for a long time suffer from this disease.
- Alcoholic hepatitis: This disease is characterized by acute or chronic injury, alcoholic liver parenchymal necrosis. People with alcoholic hepatitis may experience a loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal pain, jaundice, fatigue, etc. For those who are new to alcoholic hepatitis, these symptoms are palpable and hardly.
Alcoholic hepatitis makes the function of the patient severely impaired, so if not detected and treated and abstaining from alcohol in time, the risk of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer is enormous.
- Alcoholic cirrhosis: Drinking alcohol continually for years untreated persistent hepatitis causes the hepatocytes to become fibrous and begin the process of cirrhosis.
Alcoholic cirrhosis is extremely dangerous because it cannot be cured and fibrosis is irreversible. In addition, it is more likely to cause complications such as esophageal varices, ascites, primary peritonitis, hepatic coma and elevate the risk of liver cancer.