While alcohol is known to slow the body’s reactions, there are other effects more serious effects that drinking has on your body. These include an increased risk of strokes, liver disease, cancer and blood pressure, says Dr Clare Morrison from MedExpress UK.
“After you drink alcohol and it enters your body, the alcohol is absorbed into the blood via the stomach and the small intestine,” Morrison explains. “The effects of this can be felt about 10 minutes after first drinking it [then] become fully apparent after around 30-90 minutes and will be carried throughout all the organs in the body.”
It generally takes around one hour for a body to break down one standard drink (10g of pure alcohol in Australia and New Zealand), though this varies according to a number of factors. “Some people may find that they can drink more than others and feel less of an effect,” Morrison says. “This is due to a number of factors, including body type, how recently the person has eaten, how quickly alcohol is consumed, age, sex and how often alcohol is drunk by a person.”
Keeping these variants in mind, Morrison describes what happens to your body an hour after having a drink.
Liver: “The majority of breaking down alcohol from an intoxicant to water and carbon dioxide is performed by our liver [but] our liver can only do so much,” Morrison says. Consuming more than one standard glass an hour puts pressure on the liver which can cause severe long-term effects. Liver disease is a common – and dangerous – effect of heavy, regular drinking which can result in extreme weight loss, constant illness and even death.
Brain: approximately an hour after drinking alcohol, concentration becomes less focused and fatigue increases, sometimes to the point of unconsciousness. Often people begin to feel more relaxed and judgement will become impaired. Short-term memory loss is another effect that drinking has on the brain.
Mind: alcohol has the ability to almost instantly affect a person’s mindset. While some feel more confident and easy-going, others can experience feelings of depression, low self-esteem and anger. Alcohol can increase mood swings and lead to outbreaks or omissions that are not normal.
Kidneys: the little amount of alcohol that the liver does not process is “excreted by the lungs [then] through the kidneys,” Morrison explains. Alcohol causes the body to lose water through the kidneys, which leads to dehydration and the loss of vital minerals including calcium and magnesium. A severe lack of these minerals can create abnormal heartbeats and even seizures.
Lungs: a high concentration of alcohol in the blood can cause the throat to relax, which prevents important reflexes such as retching and coughing. This increases the risk of vomit and mucus entering the lungs and causing infection.