HOW DOES ALCOHOL AFFECTS THE NERVOUS SYSTEM AND WHICH NEOURONS ARE AFFECTED ?
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How Does Alcohol Affects the Nervous System and Which Neurons are Affected ?
Nerve damage is the lay term for a medical condition called neuropathy. People with neuropathy have some degree of degraded function in nerve cells (neurons). Neurons provide sensation throughout the body and control a wide variety of voluntary and involuntary actions and processes. Alcohol can damage nerve function when it accumulates inside the body. Heavy alcohol intake for extended periods of time can lead to alcoholic neuropathy, a serious form of nerve damage.
Nerves play a key role in virtually all daily functions. To fully comprehend how alcohol negatively impacts the nervous system, it helps to have a basic understanding of its underlying functions.
Central nervous system (CNS): This includes the brain and spinal cord. The brain plays a central role in the control of most bodily functions, such as awareness, movements, sensations, thoughts, speech and memory. The spinal cord is connected to the brainstem and runs through the spinal canal. Cranial nerves exit the brainstem and nerve roots exit the spinal cord on both sides of the body. The spinal cord carries messages back and forth between the brain and the peripheral nerves.
Peripheral nervous system: This is a network of 43 pairs of motor and sensory nerves that connect the CNS to the entire human body. These nerves control functions of sensation, movement and motor coordination.
Autonomic nervous system: Consisting of the sympathetic and parasympathetic division, these nerves regulate body processes such as blood pressure and the rate of breathing. This part of the nervous system impacts the blood vessels, stomach, intestine, liver, kidneys, bladder, genitals, lungs, pupils, heart, sweat, salivary and digestive glands. This system works automatically without conscious effort.
Motor nerves: There are three types of bundles of nerve cells that control muscles. They originate in the spinal column and end at the muscles that they control. Somatic motor nerves control skeletal muscles and movement. Special visceral motor nerves control muscles in the face and neck. General visceral motor nerves control smooth muscles that lack voluntary control, such as the heart.
Sensory nerves: These nerves carry signals from organs that respond to stimuli to the spinal cord and brain. The nerve cells that make up these nerves are commonly known as sensory neurons.
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