Drinking alcohol is one of the most common occurrences in our lives. We drink when we celebrate a happy moment but also when we are sad and problematic. Depending on the drinker’s personality and overall body condition, we have different tolerances and drinking habits that show who we are and what we can do in front of alcohol. Some drink too hard or binge drink, while others enjoy the moment while taking a few sips to avoid getting drunk.
Our drinking acts always depend on how we know our body feels after drinking alcohol. We all know that drinking too much will make us drunk and develop a bad hangover the following morning. One thing that is not discussed is that drinking alcohol faster than normal can get you into serious trouble.
What Is Considered A Standard Drink?
The amount of alcohol that’s in your drink isn’t necessarily the same as the amount of the alcoholic drink that you pour into your glass. You should know that different kinds of alcoholic drinks have different levels of alcohol within them. This is the reason why the standard drink was formulated in order to guide drinkers on the amount of alcohol that actually entered their bodies based on what they drink and the amount of it that they ingest.
This will also indicate the level of alcohol inside our body that will generate alcohol symptoms at various levels. There is no actual consensus or agreement internationally on how much pure alcohol is present in a standard drink. Most countries, however, adopted the definition from the example questionnaire form for the World Health Organization’s Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) which is set at 10g.
According to an article by the University of California Santa Cruz, the standard drink in the United States contains 14g of pure alcohol, which can be found in the following: 12 ounces of regular beer with 5% alcohol (other kinds of beer have different alcohol levels), 5 ounces of standard or table wine with 12% alcohol like champagne, 3 to 4 ounces of fortified wine with more than 13% like port or sherry and 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits with 40% or more alcohol like gin, vodka, whiskey, etc.
Health experts use the standard drink as a basis in order to calculate what is called the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). According to an article by Cleveland Clinic, BAC refers to the percentage of alcohol that is present in a person’s bloodstream. This will indicate how much alcohol greatly affects our bodies. The higher the percentage of alcohol present, the harder it is for our liver to metabolize, making some of it circulate all over our body and damaging our organs.
If we don’t monitor how much alcohol we drink, we might reach the point where the organs in our bodies will slowly shut down due to too much alcohol present. This incident is called an alcohol overdose. Knowing what is the right amount of alcohol we should drink at a particular time will help our organs, especially the liver, in dealing with it, which prevents us from a health catastrophe.
What Happens After Alcohol Enters Your Body?
Unlike any other liquid or food you ingest, the alcohol won’t get digested by your stomach as it cannot metabolize or break it down on its own, according to an article. Instead, it will enter your bloodstream directly after being absorbed in the stomach lining and small intestine. It will then circulate all over your body, affecting other organs that it goes to. It will first affect your brain before going to different organs, damaging them in the long run.
How Your Body Reacts To Alcohol
After we drink alcohol, our bodies will slowly show different signs and symptoms of alcohol intoxication caused by the chemical reactions inside our bodies. You will not notice them in the early minutes, but they will be greater and more noticeable the longer time you drink.
This includes altered perception, dizziness, impaired judgment, loss of balance and coordination, and slurred speech, among many others. The alcohol can also widen our blood vessels which is why our skin becomes reddish and looks like we are blushing or have a skin allergy.
Our body treats alcohol as waste and does a hard job of trying to eliminate it in our system. The liver is the one responsible for its extraction, as its main job is to filter toxins and waste materials from your blood. The process takes a long time, though; our liver can only metabolize one ounce of alcohol per hour.
If you drink more than the liver can metabolize, the excess alcohol will accumulate in your blood and body tissues until the liver filters them out. If the alcohol level in our body is so high that our liver can no longer process it, alcohol poisoning occurs. This is a serious health problem that should be attended to as soon as possible to avoid further complications.
The alcohol that circulates in your blood suppresses the creation of antidiuretic hormone or ADH. According to an article by You and Your Hormones, an educational resource from the Society of Endocrinology, ADH is a hormone that is created by a part of our brain called the hypothalamus and is secreted into your blood by the pituitary gland.
Its main job is to help the blood vessels constrict as well as help the kidneys control the amount of water and salt in our body by releasing some of them outside the body in the form of urine.
If this hormone is reduced, your kidneys won’t be able to regulate the amount of water in your body correctly. This will prompt an increase in the amount of water that will be expelled as urine. This is the reason why we pee a lot while drinking for a long time.
4 Main Factors That Determine How Fast Our Body Absorb Alcohol
According to an article by health direct, a health service funded by the Australian government, as well as the other articles written above, there are numerous factors that determine how fast our body absorbs alcohol upon drinking. The factors are individually discussed below.
It is said that children should not drink alcohol as it will develop bad effects on their health. An adult has a larger body and weight than a child, so it takes longer for the alcohol to be absorbed in their body. The child’s organs are still developing, so they won’t effectively recover from the adverse effects of alcohol consumption.
Older people, though, have weakened bodies, that’s why alcohol will greatly affect them compared to their early years. If not taken into consideration, excessive alcohol intake by them might lead to cancer, heart attack, and stroke, among other health issues.
2. Alcohol Percentage
According to an article by the United States National Library of Medicine, the alcohol percentages shown on the bottle of every alcoholic drink can tell us how quickly they are absorbed by our system. Liquours that have 20% to 30% alcohol-like ports (20%) are said to be absorbed faster than those with lower percentages, like beer (5%) or higher percentages like rum, vodka, and whiskey (above 30%).
3. Biological Sex
Females have a slightly different reaction to alcohol than males. Females get drunk and feel the symptoms faster and longer than males because of numerous reasons. First, their weight is lower in comparison, which means they have fewer tissues to absorb alcohol.
Second, higher alcohol concentrations accumulate faster in their system due to less water level in their body that can help dilute the alcohol that enters the bloodstream.
Third, they produce less alcohol dehydrogenase, an enzyme the liver creates to break down alcohol. This means the alcohol stays in their blood longer than males, prolonging alcohol symptoms.
4. Eating Before Drinking
Eating before drinking alcohol is highly advised by every drinker; much better if you eat food in larger quantities. This is because the larger the quantity of food that is present in your stomach, the larger the amount of alcohol is absorbed by them, lessening the amount of alcohol absorbed into your bloodstream.
When you drink on an empty stomach, the alcohol will immediately be absorbed into the bloodstream, quickening the effects and symptoms of alcohol intake. There are other factors that can determine how fast our body reacts to alcohol, like tolerance, medication, if you drink in large gulps or few sips, mixing alcoholic drinks with carbonated beverages, and the menstrual cycle among women.
Effects of Drinking Alcohol Fast
When you drink alcohol fast, your body will have a hard time dealing with it. According to an article by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, too much alcohol concentration in the bloodstream affects numerous organs in your body.
Some non-life-threatening conditions that can still significantly affect our bodies include dizziness, increased impulsivity, and bad judgment, which can later on cause alcohol-related incidents like car crashes or harming other people.
Too much alcohol concentration in our body can also cause unstable sleep and harsh hangovers the following day. If we disregard all the warnings and continue to drink more, other major alcohol-related problems like alcohol poisoning or alcohol overdose caused by increased Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC), dehydration, and other adverse health problems on specific organs will develop later on.
Drinking alcohol will never be fatal as long as we always remember to drink moderately. We should also know the limitations of our bodies in order for us to enjoy drinking without future health implications. If you or your party mates feel any discomfort or pain while drinking, seek help immediately and go to the nearest hospital to receive proper treatment.
If you know all about what alcohol can do to your body, you can avoid major health issues associated with it. Happy drinking!
I am a passionate beer connoisseur with a deep appreciation for the art and science of brewing. With years of experience tasting and evaluating various beers, I love to share my opinions and insights with others and I am always eager to engage in lively discussions about my favorite beverage.