Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Are there any lasting physical symptoms of alcoholism?"
I am a recovering alcoholic and I want to know what kind of damage I did to my body while I was drinking. Are there any lasting effects of alcoholism I should be aware of and continue to be checked for?
The answer to this question depends a lot on the length of time you were drinking and the amount of alcohol you were drinking per day. Most of the long term effects of alcohol are from liver damage. If you sustained liver damage from your drinking, it won't get better. However, the progression of the damage will greatly slow if you are no longer drinking. Another organ that can be affected by long term drinking is you heart. Heart failure is a common problem in alcoholics. Finally, mental slowing and early dementia can occur, but most of the mental problems recover once an alcoholic stops drinking and starts eating a normal diet. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. The two of you need to discuss and act on this issue. He or she will perform a thorough physical and neurological exam to make sure that you don't have any of the brain specific effects of long term drinking. Your doctor can also test you for liver damage (utilizing a simple blood test). If your doctor has any suspicion for heart damage, then you may benefit from further testing with an echocardiogram. I hope that answer helps.
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