Today is Saint Patrick’s Day and plenty of revelers will be out and about celebrating the patron saint of Ireland.
The holiday is more than paying homage to Saint Patrick; instead, it has become an excuse for many to imbibe copious amounts of booze.
Indeed, the website Alcohol.org, a subsidiary of American Addiction Centers, ranked St. Patty’s Day as the third booziest holiday or celebration in the calendar year, behind New Year’s Eve and Mardi Gras, which holds the number one spot.
Binge drinking isn’t difficult, and one may not even know they’re doing it.
If you’re planning to celebrate with the masses, it’s worth paying attention to how much alcohol you consume because binging not only leads to a host of health issues down the line, but it can also cause acute problems.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. This typically happens when men consume five or more drinks or women consume four or more drinks in about two hours.
“Besides the obvious risks of alcohol intoxication such as falls, car crashes, trauma, nausea, vomiting there is some evidence that episodes of binge drinking increase one’s risk for cardiovascular disease later in life,” said Dr. Nicholas Avgerinos, a doctor of Family Medicine at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center. “It has also been associated with an increased risk of memory problems, STIs, unintended pregnancy, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).”
As if that isn’t scary enough, recurrent binging on holidays, or even on the weekends with friends, can exacerbate pre-existing medical conditions like depression and anxiety to insomnia and acid reflux.
“Often times binge drinking will occur in college age students or young adults, but it is also prevalent in adults around holidays,” said Avgerinos.
Binging, Avgerinos explained, also puts people at risk for developing alcohol dependency issues.
“Any time consuming alcohol leads to negative outcomes or unintended consequences people should evaluate the risks and benefits of their behavior especially when it comes to substances such as alcohol, tobacco, or drugs,” he said.
Avgerinos warned that there is no way to truly lessen alcohol’s effects with food, drinks, or medications. This also applies to hangovers.
“Certainly dehydration plays a large role in hangover symptoms, which can be mitigated by alternating water with alcoholic beverages throughout an evening,” he said. “But more importantly limiting the total amount of alcohol consumed in an evening to the recommended limits for both men and women is the only way to avoid the negative consequences.”
Now that you know the facts, you can cheers – with a water or soda – to good health.