Physical Symptoms of Alcoholism


What are the physical symptoms of alcoholism?  It is hard to tell.  Alcoholism has three stages and some symptoms manifest themselves before others do.  Some symptoms never manifest themselves.   There is plenty of little things that can show a person is having problems with alcohol.   Do remember that some of these traits manifest in people who do not drink.  Use reason when drawing conclusions about alcohol use from these symptoms (or any other problem/disease for that matter).

Physical Symptoms of Alcoholism

  • Be unsteady when on your feet.
  • Not feel hungry, not eat well, and lose weight.
  • Notice tiny blood vessels on your skin that look like spider webs (spider angiomas).
  • Have redness on your face, especially your nose and cheeks.
  • Have repeated infections and skin sores (abscesses).
  • Have less interest in sex. Men might also notice shrinkage of the testicles and impotence.
  • See swelling or redness of the palms of your hands.
  • Have sore or upset stomach (gastritis).
  • Feel numbness and tingling in your feet or hands.
  • Have liver problems, such as cirrhosis.

ethanol effects

The above physical symptoms of alcoholism are not exhaustive.  Heavy alcohol use can increase the effects of co-occurring illnesses.  So some symptoms may be exaggerated.

Another thing that you can look for is “blackouts”.  In a blackout a middle stage alcoholic can be functioning quite normally and find the next day that they cannot remember anything that they did during the “blackout”.  So they look like they are OK, but they have so much alcohol in them (this is called tolerance) that they cannot encode short term memories.  The alcohol they have consumed prevents this brain function. Another thing, a person who is not an alcoholic, but is binge drinking, can also have hazy or completely missing memories.  So blackouts are not a good tool for diagnosing alcoholism.  On the other hand, if they have blacked out, but appear to be fine, that is a sign of high tolerance.  Tolerance is an excellent indicator of alcoholism.

I have driven and been arrested for DUII with  a BAC of 0.28.  That is only one beer away from 0.30.  For most people a BAC or 0.30 is sufficient to anesthetize them for surgery.

Mayo Clinic information on the physical symptoms of alcoholism


Alcohol Poisoning

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