Alcohol may or may not be something that you discuss with your doctor. Even if the yearly checkup or physical brings the standard question, “Do you drink alcohol?,” patients aren’t always too forthcoming about how much they imbibe. Researchers are now beginning to say that it should not be an uncomfortable topic–it’s wise to talk about alcohol, whether you have one drink per week or five per day. Giving your doctor the knowledge of your health habits can help them diagnose you and keep you up to date on potential health problems that are related to alcohol. Read on about what recommended drinking limits are, and how to bring up the conversation with your physician.
Healthy Alcohol Limits
When your doctor asks about your alcohol consumption, it’s not to make you feel guilty or uncomfortable. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has set forth specific guidelines when it comes to alcohol consumption that healthy adults are advised to follow. This isn’t to say that one night of overdoing it on New Year’s Eve or going out with your friends once in a blue moon is a bad thing–what doctors look for is the consistent daily and weekly alcohol consumption level. It is recommended that women only have one drink per day, never to have more than seven in one week, and for men the guidelines state up to two drinks per day, not to exceed 14 in a week. It’s also generally recommended that women have no more than three drinks in one 24-hour period and men no more than four. Binge drinking is defined as women having four or more drinks within two hours, and men having five or more drinks in two hours.
It is further recommended that certain individuals not drink at all–those who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, those who operate heavy or dangerous machinery, and those who take medicine that may interact with alcohol (such as opioids or benzodiazepines).
More About Limits
These guidelines are in place for several reasons, mainly to help avoid serious health complications and problems. There can be serious health risks and side effects directly correlated with heavy alcohol consumption. These can include everything from fatty liver to cirrhosis. It was previously a misconception that these diseases only affected the older, alcoholic population, but younger heavy drinkers are struggling with alcohol-related health issues.
There are also serious health concerns correlated with heavy drinking, such as colorectal cancer. Researchers have found a link between moderate to heavy drinking and cases of colorectal cancer, especially in women. Alcohol is also associated with heart disease, stroke, and myriad other health conditions.
If You’re Drinking Too Much
Ultimately, it may be you who needs to bring up the topic of alcohol with your doctor. If you feel that you’re drinking too much and it’s negatively affecting your life, there are many options to help you curtail or stop your drinking entirely. However, to get the help you need, you’ll have to be completely honest with your doctor about how much you actually drink. If you do find yourself regularly having more than you intended (or well more than the recommended weekly amount for your gender), it may be time for a talk with your doctor and a firm New Year’s resolution to cut back. If you need more information about GI issues as they relate to drinking, or you’re suffering from a GI concern, book an appointment with Associates in Digestive Health today. Our commitment is to a high level of professional service while keeping our patients happy and healthy.