Does Drinking Alcohol Make You Look Older?
Many people like to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner or have a beer when out socializing. However, drinking excessive amounts on a regular basis puts you at risk of developing alcohol use disorder (AUD), also known as alcohol dependence, alcoholism, and alcohol abuse. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans define excessive drinking as more than two a day for men and more than one a day for women.
In addition to alcohol dependency, being a heavy drinker and bingeing can have negative effects on your body over time. Not only does it increase the risk of heart disease, liver disease, cancer, digestive problems, and other serious medical conditions, but it can also drastically alter your appearance by speeding up the aging process. If you’ve been wondering if drinking alcohol causes you to look older, we’ve got the answer.
Are you or a family member a longtime drinker? Do you seem to look and feel older than you think you should for your age? At Zinnia Health, we’re available 24/7 to help you throughout the treatment process, so reach our alcohol hotline available 24 hours per day at (855) 430-9439.
How Alcohol Affects Your Skin
Researchers have found that excessive alcohol consumption can affect the skin. The noticeable differences in skin complexions are often early signs of alcohol abuse.
- Wrinkles — lines and creases formed in the skin
- Jaundice — yellowing of the skin due to high levels of bile pigment
- Pruritus — itchy skin
- Hyperpigmentation — discoloration of the skin (dark spots)
- Urticaria — hives on the skin
- Porphyria Cutanea Tarda (PCT) — painful blisters that develop on sun-exposed skin
- Melanoma — cancer of the skin
Consuming too many alcoholic beverages can reduce your levels of vitamin A (retinol) and vitamin C. Vitamins produce collagen, an essential component of skin, bones, and muscles. As you age, your body produces less collagen.
That’s why you begin to lose elasticity and develop wrinkly skin, especially on your face. To fight the aging effect that can make you look old, many people use anti-aging creams that include vitamins.
How Alcohol Affects Your Bones
If you’re a longtime drinker, you could be making yourself look older by doing harm to your bones. Drinking alcohol reduces the amount of vitamin D in the body.
Sometimes, vitamin D deficiency shows no signs or symptoms, but over time, it can cause:
- Collapsed or fractured vertebrae
- Severe back pain
- Loss of height
- Curved, hunched posture
- Soft bones that break easily
Vitamin deficiency is most common in adults 65 and older. When you lack vitamin D, it affects the body’s ability to absorb calcium. In turn, you’ll have bone loss, lower bone mass, and reduced bone density. Eventually, these can lead to osteopenia or osteoporosis.
How Alcohol Affects Your Blood Vessels
Alcohol is a vasodilator, which means it causes blood vessels to relax and widen. Changes to blood vessels brought on by excess alcohol consumption can affect various parts of the body.
Alcohol can have an aging effect when you have the following:
- Telangiectasias — spider veins
- Angiomas — small growths made of blood vessels
- Caput medusas — clusters of swollen veins around the belly button
- Flushing — reddening of the face, neck, or upper chest
- Palmar erythema — palms of hands turn red
At high levels of consumption, alcohol acts like a vasoconstrictor, causing the blood vessels to constrict and become narrower. As a result, it becomes harder for the heart to pump blood throughout the body, leading to high blood pressure, heart disease, and even stroke.
How Alcohol Affects Your Eyes
Drinking a large amount of alcohol causes damage to your eyes over time. Damage occurs particularly in the retina and optic nerves in the eye, where it’s usually age-related rather than alcohol-related.
- Age-related macular degeneration — blurred central vision and blindness caused by deteriorating retinas
- Diabetic retinopathy — damaged blood vessels in the eyes caused by diabetes
- Retinal vein occlusion — blocked veins that lead to the retina and cause blurred vision
- Central serous chorioretinopathy — a buildup of fluid in the retina, leading to distorted vision
These serious symptoms are believed to be related to alcohol being a neurotoxin, which can cause tissue damage. In addition, people with alcohol addiction tend to have nutritional deficiencies that can impact the eyes.
How Alcohol Affects Your Hair
Alcohol can lead to damaged hair, although it doesn’t directly cause hair loss. Because bingeing and excess drinking cause nutritional deficiencies, this can impact the overall health of your body, including your hair.
Some of the ways drinking too much alcohol can affect your hair include:
- Dry, brittle hair
- Alopecia (hair loss)
- Thinning hair
The effects of alcohol are a significant factor in making you look much older.
Zinnia Health offers various levels of care for substance use, from inpatient and outpatient rehab to sober living and aftercare. We can help you with alcohol addiction, so contact us to learn more about our therapy services.
How Alcohol Affects Your Weight
Alcohol can cause you to gain weight in response to your eating habits and changes in metabolism. Most alcoholic beverages are full of empty calories with no nutritional benefits.
Weight gain happens for several reasons:
- Alcohol is high in carbohydrates due to sugar and starch content
- People tend to make poor food choices when drinking
- Alcohol makes you hungry and likely to eat more
- Alcohol can cause cravings for greasy and salty foods
- Alcohol can keep your body from burning fat
Weight loss is one of many reasons to consume alcohol more mindfully or stop altogether. Keep a close eye on how much you drink, the type of drinks you most enjoy, and ways it can affect your eating habits.
Get Help to Stop Drinking and Slow the Physical Effects of Alcohol
It’s common knowledge that drinking too much can lead to alcoholism. But now you know that it can also be a reason you look and feel much older than you really are.
Heavy drinking, be it wine, beer, liquor, or other alcoholic drinks, can negatively affect everything, from your skin, hair, and eyes to your ability to sleep and heal. There’s no better time than now to take steps to stop drinking.
Zinnia Health understands how challenging it can be to stop drinking. We also know that it’s vital to seek specialized help for alcohol addiction, which can make you look older and cause a myriad of physical and mental health problems.
That’s why we offer a range of therapies for substance use disorders that can be customized just for you.