For most people, there is nothing wrong with enjoying alcohol in moderation. However, for some, even moderate consumption could lead to impairment or health issues such as an increased risk of thyroid cancer. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between moderate and excessive consumption, what alcohol can do to your thyroid and what to do if you need help overcoming an alcohol use disorder.
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What Does Moderate Consumption Look Like?
Generally speaking, moderate consumption is one drink a day or less for women and two drinks a day or less for men. This may also be articulated at seven drinks or less per week for women and 14 drinks or less for men a week. However, it is important to note that consuming more than three or four beverages in a single setting is considered binge drinking. This type of behavior can be extremely dangerous and may be a sign of a possible alcohol use disorder even if those three or four drinks are all you have in a given week.
It’s also important to note that even a single drink can lead to significant impairment regardless of your gender. This may be true if you are an inexperienced drinker, take certain types of medications that don’t mix well with alcohol or drink on an empty stomach.
What Can Alcohol Consumption Do to Your Thyroid?
Alcohol consumption can play a role in suppressing or otherwise regulating the production of hormones called Triiodothyronine (T3) Tetraiodothyronine (T4). It is believed that alcohol can cause cellular toxicity, which results in a lower level of T3, and in some cases, it can significantly reduce the amount of this hormone in your thyroid.
Of course, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It may play a role in guarding against hypothyroidism, which is a condition in which the thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormone. In some cases, this is caused by an autoimmune disorder known as Graves disease. Research suggests that those who drink in moderation are less likely to develop Graves disease, and they may also be less likely to experience thyroid cancer.
However, you are discouraged from consuming more than one or two drinks a day as alcohol can have a negative impact on your liver, kidneys and other body parts. It can also lead to mental health or other issues that outweigh the benefits of a healthy thyroid.
Does alcohol affect the Thyroid?
Yes can affect thyroid function in several ways:
- Alcohol suppresses thyroid hormone production and secretion, leading to hypothyroidism. Chronic alcohol use reduces circulating levels of T3 and hormones.
- Alcohol disrupts the hypothalamic-pituitary-thy axis, blunt TSH. This impairs the body ability to regulate thyroid function.
- Alcohol causes direct cellular toxicity to thyroid cells, damaging tissue over time. This can reduce volume.
- Heavy alcohol use can deplete nutrients like selenium, essential for proper thyroid hormone metabolism.
- However, some studies suggest moderate alcohol intake may lower the risk of hypothyroidism. The effects likely depend on the amount consumed.
So, in summary, Yes, alcohol use, especially heavy/chronic use, negatively impact thyroid function through multiple causes.
The Jury Is Still Out in Some Regards
It’s critical to keep in mind that the research into the link between alcohol and thyroid issues is incomplete at best. Therefore, it’s not clear if drinking too much beer will cause you to develop a hormone imbalance or similar problems. Ideally, you will see your doctor if you notice any health issues after you consume alcohol or if you have trouble drinking in moderation.
Seeking Help to Combat Alcohol Dependency
There are a number of actions that you can take if you believe that you are dependent on alcohol. First, you are encouraged to check into an inpatient rehab facility where you can go through an initial detox in a safe and controlled environment. Typically, it takes 48 to 72 hours to get through the worst of your withdrawal symptoms that may include nausea, shaking or increased levels of anxiety.
You will typically stay in an inpatient program for about 30 to 60 days to fully detox and to get the resources needed to obtain and retain your sobriety over the long-term. After you get out of an inpatient program, you will typically spend time in an outpatient program. Outpatient programs are designed for those who simply need help maintaining their sobriety or who may need help taking medication safely.
Generally speaking, a recovering addict is always susceptible to relapse. Therefore, you will probably need to go to group meetings or other outpatient events for the rest of your life. However, the good news is that your cravings for alcohol will typically wane over time, which means that it will become easier to adjust to your new life.
Tips for Maintaining Your Sobriety
While going to group meetings can be an effective way to help you stay sober, you can’t be in meetings all day. Therefore, it’s important to have a number of coping mechanisms that you can use when you’re alone. For instance, you could choose to take up painting, go to the gym or call a friend when you are feeling tempted to drink. You could also decide to play video games, write a poem or engage in other activities that will take your mind off of your urge to drink. In many cases, you’ll find your urge to consume alcohol will go away as soon as you can focus your energy on something else.
If You Know Someone Who Has a Dependency on Alcohol
Although you might not think that there is much that you can do to help you friend or loved one, this isn’t necessarily true. For instance, you could suggest that your loved one visit the doctor to have the immediate medical issue examined. Learning the link between alcohol and an ongoing thyroid issue might be enough for your friend or relative to seek treatment for alcohol dependency. You might also be able to share personal stories of how you were able to overcome alcohol dependency or how you were able to kick some other habit that was having a negative impact on your health or relationships.
If you are ready to get help for alcohol dependency, the folks at Long Island Treatment Center are here for you. We can also help the friends or loved ones of those who are dependent on alcohol to get through their days. Our team can create a treatment plan to get past your dependency on alcohol as well as treat thyroid or other health issues that may be caused by excessive alcohol consumption. You can get in touch with us right now to learn more about our services or to learn more about how to enroll in a treatment program.