Health Alert: Aging & alcohol

NATIONAL (NBC) - We all know that drinking too much alcohol can cause health problems, but did you know those problems can get worse as you get older? And we're not just talking about hangovers. Here's a look at how drinking affects you differently in your 30's, 40's and 50's.

Over a long period of time alcohol can affect every single organ in your body. Dr. Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber says alcohol affects everything from the heart to the brain.

What happens if you drink too much in your 30's? Dr. Rohr-Kirchgraber says, "We've had a number of men in their 30's going out for drinks on the weekend and will end up with abnormal heart rhythms and have to go to the emergency room."

Also, the doctor says, "If you're in your 30's and you're a woman thinking about becoming pregnant, alcohol can adversely affect the baby."

If you drink too much in your 40s, things can get even worse. Dr. Rohr-Kirchgraber says, "In the early 40s, is a lot of times when we'll start seeing patients with high blood pressure and alcohol directly affects high blood pressure as well. It also starts to affect the kidneys a bit more too."

By the time you're in your 50's, "organs that have had toxic effect from the alcohol for so many years are really starting to have a hard time. They are already stressed by the aging process."

That includes deterioration of the heart muscles, short and long term memory loss, cirrhosis of the liver, osteoporosis and depression.

Researchers say there are benefits from drinking moderate amounts of alcohol. For example, a glass or two of wine a day can reduce your risk of heart attacks and strokes.

A small amount of alcohol in an adult can actually be helpful, but remember, everything in moderation. If your drinking is out of control, doctors say get help. There's counseling, and medications can also help reduce alcohol cravings.

Posted by Chantelle Janelle