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If you think the physical effects of drinking stop at headaches, nausea, and possible damage to your liver and kidneys, it is time to face reality. The damage can be much greater than that. Dr. Christopher Calapai, an East Meadow, New York based Osteopathic Physician board certified in family medicine says alcohol consumption can affect your health in that it can also lead to chronic colds from a suppressed immune system, poor eyesight from a vitamin deficiency, slow-to-heal cuts and bruises from a diminished amount of white blood cells, fatigue from an insufficient amount of REM sleep, voice changes from dehydration and constriction of the vocal cords, and memory loss from an out-of-whack brain chemistry. He also shares the lesser known consequences of how alcohol consumption can take a toll on your appearance:
Hair Loss – Excessive drinking (more than 3 drinks within a 3 hour period) causes your estrogen levels to rise and your zinc levels to fall. According to Dr. Calapia, “A rise in estrogen leads to the hair loss and then the drop in zinc plus folic acid levels compromise healthy hair growth and maintenance.”
Blemishes – Your insulin levels will spike from binge drinking and regular alcohol consumption — especially when that booze is blended with sodas and mixers — causing a boost in sebum production. Calapia says, “Once you have high sebum production happening pores get clogged and that’s when the breakouts start to happen.” He suggests limiting your drinks to once a week, 3 drinks maximum, or better yet, eliminating alcohol completely to notice a significant change to your skin’s texture and clarity.
Ruddy Complexion – Since alcohol boosts blood flow, tiny blood vessels in the cheek and nose area can dilate and become broken capillaries, especially noticeable in those with a fair complexion. Though your dermatologist can treat them with lasers, “Lysine, vitamin C, and grapeseed oil are all things that you can use at home that may help,” suggests Calapai.
Chapped Cracked Lips – Dehydration is a well-known repercussion of drinking since it rids the body of water, but when alcohol passes your lips it not only dries them out it can also cause lip ulcers that can last for weeks. This is due to the ethanol that is found in alcoholic beverages. Calapai suggests, “After a night of drinking try switching to 3 days of only drinking water, no sodas and no juices. You’ll notice your lips and skin get back to a better color and texture.”