physical effects of alcoholism

Having watched my father die from liver disease brought on by years of alcoholism, I was surprised at how very thin Cecil’s column was on the subject.
The physical effects that were discussed don’t even come close to the actual event.

That beer belly that people associate with drinking? It’s not a big gut filled with beer. It’s fluids that would normally pass through the liver, however because the liver is so deteriorated, the fluids can’t pass, and seep into the stomach cavity. Try having three litres of fluid syphoned from your body. Not pretty. Those fluids also build up in the legs and feet, resulting in grotesquely enlarged, swollen feet.

That liver that’s dying? Well, it can no longer absorb and negate toxins in your body. Those toxins build up and poisen you. You fall asleep constantly, though it’s really more like going unconsious than sleeping. You can’t remember anything. You can’t understand things or follow a plot in a movie. You live in a fog. You sometimes don’t recognize your kids or grandkids.
When those toxins build up enough, you fall into a hepatic coma.
Liver Transplant, you say? Well that’s a great idea, if, of course, your years of drinking haven’t also damaged your heart and driven your blood pressure sky high. If it has, then you’re not a candidate for a transplant. Sorry, charlie. The doctors are also a little peaved at the idea of doing a transplant on someone who did this to themselves.
So, transplant is usually out.

In a few days, maybe even a week, you start to breathe loud enough to be heard 4 rooms away.

In the end, if you’re lucky and there’s a miracle, you wake up for a couple of hours, which is long enough for your family to say goodbyes and love yous.
But you will die. And not peacefully, not serenly.

I thought Cecil’s column would be a little more in depth as to the real dangers of alcoholism.

Welcome to the SDMB, Cheysu.

Link to the article referred:
What are the physical consequences of alcoholism?

Thank you for your post. Sad. :frowning:

Sorry about your father, Cheysu.

Cecil’s writing a newspaper column with a strict limit on word count. There’s a limit as to how much detail he can get into on one point without neglecting something else.

That’s one of the reasons why it’s good to have this forum, where things can be followed up on more.

While I’m not disputing that this could happen as a result of cirrosis, I don’t think that’s what’s usually referred to as a beer belly. The more usual beer belly is just plain fat. Which is still not good, of course, but it’s not nearly so bad as the situation you describe.

Eh, the column was written more than 20 years ago, perhaps he would do it differently now.

As an alcoholic, I thought it was dead-on.