How Does Alcohol Affect My Brain Cells

2 minutes
 Alcohol damages just about every vital organ in our bodies. But just to set the record straight, the drug has neither currently nor has it ever killed brain cells. So if you are going to drink alcohol, as do nearly half of the world’s seven billion inhabitants, you may as well know the whole truth.As a disclaimer, I am in no way endorsing the consumption of alcohol.People who drink enough to get drunk often end up with slurred speech and impaired motor skills and judgment, among other side effects. Many of them suffer from headaches, nausea and other unpleasant side effects afterward — in other words, a hangover. But there are a few drinks on the weekend, or even the occasional long drinking session, enough to kill brain cells? What about binge drinking or the frequent, sustained drinking of alcoholics?Moderate alcohol intake doesn’t kill brain cells, or even damage them. That’s because the amount of alcohol needed to kill brain cells would also kill the person drinking it!That doesn’t mean that alcohol can’t damage the brain, though. Alcoholics can experience brain damage related to drinking, but it’s not because alcohol kills brain cells. There are a few things that can happen when people drink a lot of alcohol over a long period of time. While it can’t kill brain cells, it can damage the dendrites, which are the branch-like ends of the brain cells. Dendrites are key for passing messages from one neuron to another, so a degradation of the dendrites can cause cognitive problems. Recent research shows that dendrite damage can be reversed with certain kinds of therapy and training.

Source: Donald Bliss, MAPB, Medical Illustration

Another brain disorder that alcoholics may develop is Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. People with Wernicke-Korsakoff generally suffer from problems with memory, confusion, eye paralysis, and lack of muscle coordination. While this syndrome may lead to brain cell death, it is not because of the alcohol specifically–it’s actually due to thiamine deficiency. Thiamine is an important B vitamin that’s crucial to neuron health, and alcoholics may lack thiamine because consuming large quantities of alcohol can disrupt thiamine absorption in the body. Alcoholics may also be malnourished, which can additionally deplete thiamine reserves.

So while alcohol doesn’t actually kill brain cells, it can still damage your brain if you drink in mass quantities.

Priyanka Raj

Priyanka Raj is an engineer by profession but writer at heart. Writing is her passion and she has been actively involves with various organisations like wooplr, colledge connect, spicmacay, rotract club etc. through internships and various other programs. Through Your DOST she wishes to make her opinion count and her writing reach the world.