How does alcohol addiction affects hormone system in body?
The body’s hormones work in a coordinated manner to keep us healthy. However, the intake of alcohol can interfere with the smooth functioning of the hormone system which may lead to serious medical consequences.
Hormones control the functioning of the various body tissues and organs. A healthy hormone secretes the exact amount of hormone required at the right time. The psychiatrist at Manas Hospital tells us that alcoholism can lead to impairment of the functions of the hormone-releasing glands thereby affecting the functions performed by them and leading to medical problems. Such people will need to undergo de-addiction. Various de-addiction centres are available for such purposes.
Alcohol and Blood Sugar Levels
The body processes energy in the form of glucose, which is obtained from food. Insulin and glucagon are the two hormones that control the body’s blood sugar levels. They coordinate their functioning to maintain the desired levels of glucose in our blood. While insulin’s function is to lower the sugar levels, the glucagon’s function is to increase it. Some hormones secreted from the adrenal glands and the pituitary glands also help in the functioning of glucagon to ensure that the body’s glucose level doesn’t fall too low.
Alcohol and Glucose Levels
Alcohol has been found to interfere with the absorption and regulation of the glucose levels as alcoholics tend to limit the intake of glucose by not eating properly when they are having drinks. Other ways in which alcohol affects the system is –
- Inhibiting glucose production while the metabolism occurs
- Augmenting the secretion of insulin leading to temporary hypoglycemia
- Impairing the hormonal response to hypoglycemia
- Chronic Heavy Drinking and Glucose levels
Chronic heavy drinking can increase the body’s glucose levels by reducing the body’s response quotient to insulin. It also leads to the following –
- glucose intolerance
- Increment in the secretion of glucagon and other hormones that lead to a rise in glucose levels
- Influence the efficacy of medications for diabetes
- Cause both hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia in alcoholics
- Lower the survival rates of diabetic alcoholics
Alcohol and Impaired Reproductive Functions
Androgens (e.g. testosterone) and estrogens (e.g. estradiol) are one of the main hormones which are synthesized in the testes and ovaries. These are responsible for sexual maturation and development of fertility in the males. In women, they trigger the development of breasts and various secondary sexual characteristics. They are also helpful in regulating the menstrual cycle and maintaining pregnancy. A chronic alcoholic will have to face impairment of the functioning of the testes and sexual dysfunction .In women; it will affect the ovaries, sexual functionality and cause infertility.