Alcoholism Physical Symptom


We often forget to look at any alcoholism physical symptom, we are so busy looking at the psychological and social symptoms. But alcoholism is truly a disease of mind and body, and the multitude of alcoholism symptoms bear that out.

A common alcoholism physical symptom is disturbance of the digestive system, including abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Other symptoms include red eyes, a puffy face, and enlarged blood vessels in the skin.

Numbness in the arms and legs may occur. It should be noted that these symptoms don’t just occur when a person is drinking, but may be present at other times in a chronic drinker.

Alcoholism symptoms include developing an increasing tolerance to alcohol. The alcoholic needs to drink more and more in order to get the same effect.

The alcoholic may also begin to experience “blackouts” in which they don’t remember episodes in which they have been drinking. They may experience withdrawal symptoms if they don’t drink.

Health Problems

Alcoholism can also cause a number of health problems. Some of these medical alcoholism symptoms include:

  • Hypoglycemia
  • Hypertension
  • Heart damage
  • Pancreatitis
  • Liver damage
  • Brain damage
  • Increased risk of cancer of the esophagus, larynx, pancreas, stomach, and upper gastrointestinal tract.

Alcoholics often have nutritional deficiencies, as well. Their overall nutrition tends to be poor, and they often are particularly lacking in Vitamin B. Nutritional deficiencies may be so severe as to cause problems with memory, learning abilities, and ability to think rationally.

Alcohol is also a depressant. In addition to that, alcoholism creates tremendous stress in one’s life. Alcoholics frequently suffer from clinical depression or other mental health problems.

It is notable that the alcoholic will continue to drink despite these health problems. Even when informed by their doctor that they have health problems that are caused by their drinking and that these health problems would improve if they stopped drinking, the alcoholic finds it impossible to stop. This in itself is one of the alcoholism symptoms to watch out for.

Liver Disease

Liver disease is very common in alcoholics, at least in those who are alcoholics for any length of time. It is may be the most serious alcoholism physical symptom. Cirrhosis, a very serious and potentially fatal liver disease, occurs in 15% of those who drink heavily for more than 10 years.

Cirrhosis is caused by scarring of the liver. The liver’s job is to filter toxins from the body, and alcohol puts too much strain on the liver. When the liver cannot function properly, toxins build up in the body. They affect other organs, including the brain.

While some forms of liver disease common to alcoholics, such as alcoholic hepatitis, are reversible if the patient stops drinking, cirrhosis is not reversible. Even if the patient stops drinking, the condition is permanent, and it is potentially fatal.

A liver transplant is generally the only successful treatment. While most patients who receive a transplant survive, many die while waiting for a new liver.

And again, many alcoholics continue to drink even after being told by their doctor that they have a serious liver disease.

Treating Alcoholism Physical Symptom

Alcohol rehabilitation programs are well aware of these alcoholism symptoms and one of the first things they do is address any medical problems caused by alcoholism. Patients often need to detox, and this is done under medical supervision.

Patients are assessed for alcohol-related health problems, and appropriate treatment is prescribed. Until any alcoholism physical symptom is addressed, the patient will not be able to focus fully on their complete recovery program, which involves education, counseling, support groups, and other services as needed along with the appropriate medical care.

More than alcoholism physical symptom on our alcoholism stages page

Alcoholism home page

Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 

I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LPC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More