Alcohol Abuse

3 Physical Signs of Alcohol Abuse That You Might Not Expect

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Alcoholism is a disease that affects more than 80 million people in the United States. Unfortunately, only 8 percent of those suffering from the disease will actually receive treatment

Signs of alcohol abuse will vary from person to person because each may experience different symptoms. While numerous signs of alcoholism include depression, fatigue, sweating, shaking, anxiety, high tolerance, blackouts, and withdrawal, there are other symptoms you may not expect but are quite telling. 

Identifying Physical Signs of Alcoholism:

Read on to learn about three physical signs of alcoholism that you may not have been aware of.

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1. Rhinophyma and Alcoholism

It’s no secret that alcohol can wreak havoc on the body. What many people don’t realize is that alcohol abuse can have a devastating effect on your vascular system. So, what is rhinophyma and what does it have to do with alcoholism?

Rhinophyma or “alcoholic nose” is a condition that can affect the nasal region. It alters the nose size, shape, and skin creating large, bulb-like growths. Alcohol can cause the brain’s regulation of vascular functions to deteriorate, which often leads to enlarged vessels in the face and neck. These enlarged vessels will cause the face to flush or redden, and eventually, it can lead to rhinophyma. While it may take years for serious symptoms to occur, it can completely alter a person’s appearance.

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2. Does Alcohol Cause Bloating?

Many people might be surprised to learn that the stomach or face can bloat after alcohol consumption. There are several scientific causes for this:

  • Alcohol is an inflammatory substance that can lead to swelling in the body [1]. If you like to mix your drinks with sugary liquids such as soda or juice, you may exacerbate the problem further and create issues like gas, discomfort, and bloating from alcohol.
  • At one point or another, you may have heard of a “beer belly”. Often joked about, this issue can be quite serious. Alcohol contains a lot of calories and, if mixed with sugary drinks, can lead to quick weight gain. Alcoholic-dependent individuals have a much higher risk of gaining excess weight by purely drinking their daily calories. 
  • Alcohol can also irritate your gastrointestinal tract, which is another cause for bloating. Another physical sign of alcohol abuse is heartburn or acid reflux caused by the alcohol itself, which increases the amount of gastric acid in the stomach.
  • Alcohol is a depressant, which can affect the central nervous system. Ingesting a high amount of alcohol can lead to faster dehydration, causing organs and skin to hold onto any water in their system. Bloating and puffiness usually follows as the body tries to recuperate.

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3. Alcohol and Breath Smell Correlation: Why Do Alcoholics Smell?

Signs of alcohol abuse can extend past physical signs and work their way into non-physical manifestations. Consuming an excess of alcohol will likely lead to more noticeable effects such as unpleasant breath [2] and alcoholic body odor. Alcohol is treated as a toxin in the body, and a sure sign of abusing alcohol is the smell of bad breath. This comes from the body’s metabolism attempting to break down and convert the alcohol into less harmful chemicals.

While bad breath isn’t a physical sign of alcohol abuse, it comes across in the physical sense. It’s not something you’ll see, but rather, something you will smell. Bad breath after drinking alcohol happens because the system becomes deprived of water, which dries out the mouth. A dry mouth leads to a reduction in the natural production of saliva, and without saliva keeping your mouth clean of the bacteria that cause bad breath, it can make the issue worse. Wondering what alcohol smells like on breath? Many people even complain that an alcoholic smells like garlic.

Alcoholic Ketoacidosis Smell

Many people acquainted with alcoholics will notice that alcoholism causes bad body odor too, aside from alcoholics' bad breath smell. This is because excess alcohol in the body can change the way your sweat smells, contributing to what is known as Alcoholic ketoacidosis (AKA) smell [3].

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Identified Signs of Alcohol Abuse? Get Help Here

Alcoholism is a tough disease to battle. Family members and friends struggling with it often hide their problem from those they love. If you or someone you love suffers from an addiction, getting help can be a positive step forward. There are places that can provide counseling, customized care, and support so they can get back to living their best life. If you have any questions about substance abuse, contact our professionals today. We look forward to helping in any way we can.

Read more information on alcohol abuse on our website.

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