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Physical Signs of Alcohol Dependence

Topic Overview

The physical signs of alcohol dependence can be vague in the early stages of the disease. Some early symptoms include:

  • Blackouts, which cause you to not remember what happened when you were drinking. Blackouts are not the same as passing out. Passing out occurs when you lose consciousness. You don't pass out when you have an alcohol blackout, but you lose your memories of the event.
  • Accidents and illnesses you can't explain. You might develop new physical problems, such as stomach cramps, or another health problem may get worse.

As alcohol dependence gets worse, physical symptoms of long-term heavy drinking can develop. You may:

  • Not feel hungry, not eat well, and lose weight.
  • Notice tiny blood vessels on your skin that look like spider webs (spider angiomas).
  • See swelling or redness of the palms of your hands.
  • Have redness on your face, especially your nose and cheeks.
  • Have repeated infections and skin sores (abscesses).
  • Have less interest in sex. Men might also notice shrinkage of the testicles and impotence.
  • Have sore or upset stomach (gastritis).
  • Feel numbness and tingling in your feet or hands.
  • Be unsteady when on your feet.
  • Have liver problems, such as cirrhosis.

Related Information

Credits

Current as ofMay 7, 2018

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Peter Monti, PhD - Alcohol and Addiction
Christine R. Maldonado, PhD - Behavioral Health


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