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Drinking Dangers - Family Medicine

Drinking can be a common part of social gatherings, but doctors are finding that excessive drinking is a common problem among seniors in Southwest Florida.

Dr. Jon Burdzy, a family medicine physician on staff with Lee Health, says drinking can be more dangerous than people realize, especially for adults over the age of 65. “Alcohol is such a social thing and it’s such a part of our culture and our society that a lot of people don’t take it as seriously as they need to. I’ve noticed over the years that a lot of retired people here have drinking problems. That’s something a lot of people are very hesitant to address. There’s a lot of stigma with that.”

The older we get, the most susceptible we become to health problems. Doctors say over time excessive drinking can weaken a patient’s heart muscle, cause memory loss, and damage the liver and pancreas. “We find things sometimes even in lab tests that will lead us to think that someone is drinking too much. We can see changes in people’s liver enzymes, indicating there could be some liver damage,” said Dr. Burdzy.

Doctors recommend men under 65 have no more than two drinks per day, while women of any age should have no more than one drink per day. “Over 80,000 people a year die from alcohol related causes and about 17 to 18 thousand of those are from motor vehicle accidents,” said Dr. Burdzy.

Studies show widowers over the age of 75 have the highest rate of alcoholism in the U.S. “A glass of wine is five ounces and distilled alcohol, whiskey, vodka, anything like that, it’s an ounce and a half,” said Dr. Burdzy.

Drinking in moderation is key to protecting your overall health.

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