Face Numb After Drinking: Here’s How Alcohol Affects Your Body

Alcohol is an unhealthy relaxant that slows down and depresses the circulatory and nervous systems. It affects the activity of the brain, particularly that of the frontal lobes, and makes you feel dizzy. Heavy drinkers often experience their lips, tongue, limbs, and face numb after drinking.

So why exactly do you feel your face numb after drinking?

Well, this can be a sign of alcoholic neuropathy. This symptom is very common among heavy drinkers. Usually, facial numbness is also a sign of migraine, stroke, MS or bell’s palsy. 

Learn all about the effects of alcohol and its associated neuropathies in this write-up. 

Cause of Numbness After Drinking Alcohol

Many alcoholics experience numbness after drinking alcohol. Your nervous system controls your actions and cutaneous sensations. So, if you sense pain, numbness, or tingling anywhere in the body, then it means your nervous system is disturbed. 

face-numb-after-drinking

Once you consume alcohol, your body doesn’t digest it. Instead, it passes directly into the bloodstream. It adversely affects the brain, kidneys, and liver. All three of these are the most important organs which work in association to remove toxins from the body.  

Binge drinkers after consuming a large amount of alcohol complain of numbness, tickling, burning, needling, and pinning in the body. The most common reason for this numbness is alcoholic neuropathy. 

Alcoholic Neuropathy

Any damage to the peripheral nerves due to excessive alcohol intake leads to alcoholic neuropathy. People who usually drink have an irregular lifestyle and eating habits. Alcohol consumption also affects the lining of GIT thereby causing the malabsorption of nutrients. Hence, nutritional deficiency and malabsorption lead to alcoholic neuropathy. 

Alcohol consumption never does any good to your body! It is the second most common cause of neuropathy in the world. It affects the functioning of vital organs such as the liver and kidneys thereby affecting their function to remove toxins from the body. Hence, this leads to the accumulation of toxic compounds.  

Alcohol impairs the function of several vitamins which are essential for the healthy functioning of the nervous system. These include cobalamin (B12), Folic acid (B9), Thiamine (B1), Niacin (B3), Vitamin E(Alpha-tocopherol). Any nutritional deficiency or malabsorption of these vitamins will lead to neurological problems. However, the symptoms of alcoholic neuropathy can be improved by increasing the intake of such vitamins.  

How Much Alcohol Causes Neuropathy 

There isn’t a specified criterion on the basis of which we can judge whether neuropathy will occur or not. This is because every person has their own body mechanism. Some are sensitive to even the slightest metabolic problems while others are not. 

neuropathy

It’s not like drinking a lot today will develop neuropathy tomorrow. In fact, it may take months or maybe years to reach a point where your nerves become so weak and damaged that the symptoms start appearing. Moreover, persistent alcohol intake will aggravate the condition. 

Symptoms

If you believe that tingling and numbness are all that happens in alcoholic neuropathy, then you’re wrong. Alcoholic neuropathy poses three kinds of symptoms which include sensory, motor, and metabolic disorders. It majorly affects the upper and lower limbs, urinary tract, bowel, and brain. Some most common symptoms of alcohol-related neuropathy are,

  • numb lips after drinking alcohol
  • Pain and tingling in the upper and lower limb
  • Dizziness
  • Bruises on fingers and toes
  • Abdominal disorders 
  • Speech impairment 
  • Swallowing problems
  • Spasms
  • Nausea
  • Muscle function loss 
  • Urinary leakage
  • numb teeth after drinking alcohol

If you experience any of the aforementioned symptoms, just contact your healthcare expert. An early diagnosis will positively affect the pace of your treatment. 

Alcoholic Neuropathy Treatment

As compared to several other nervous problems, alcoholic neuropathy can be treated easily. However, the treatment might be difficult for binge drinkers because the most effective way of treatment is to “STOP DRINKING.”

Stopping alcohol intake will make you go through some withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, headache, and nausea but gradually everything will get back to normal. Depending upon your body’s nutritional condition, your health expert will also provide you with some supplements (vitamins). The doctor may prescribe,

  • Pain killers
  • Supplements of the deficient vitamins 
  • Antidepressants
  • Medications for bowel and urine related problems 
  • Physiotherapy 

Face Numb After Drinking: What’s the Reason?

The sensations in your face are controlled by the facial nerves. So, any damage to such nerves can cause tingling, numbness, and impairment of the facial muscles. Tipplers often experience their face tingling after drinking alcohol. But, what makes the face numb after drinking? Let’s explore the most likely causes. 

Once you consume alcohol, it enters the bloodstream and travels through the entire body. Alcohol acts as a relaxant, it affects the nervous system and depresses it. When the activity of the brain is affected and slowed down, then the consumer experiences numbness and tingling.  

The other reason why your face feels numb while drinking can be the deficiency of vitamin B12. Excessive intake of alcohol adversely affects vitamin B12 absorption. For normal nerve functioning, regeneration, and healthy activity vitamin B12 is crucial. Hence, its deficiency often poses some risks leading to improper functioning of the nervous system. 

Long-term usage can contribute to the shrinkage of the frontal lobes of the brain which are responsible for controlling your conscious activities and cognitive skills. Being severely toxic to the nervous system, alcohol can even lead to temporary paralysis. 

A slow circulatory system regulates the temperature sensitivity which might make your face numb after drinking. Hence, if your face feels numb after drinking, then a history of alcohol misuse could be the major reason behind this numbness and tingling.  

So, reducing your alcohol consumption, avoiding unhealthy foods, consuming a healthy diet full of nutrients, and using supplements can help you improve the symptoms of neurological problems associated with excessive drinking. 

Is It Normal to Feel Numb When Drunk?

Drinking more than your body can handle will definitely result in some consequences. Those who are binge-drinkers experience numbness which isn’t normal and could be a sign of alcoholic neuropathy. 

Alcohol depresses the functioning of the brain and spinal cord and slows down the working of the nervous system which makes you feel numb. Other reasons include the deficiency of cobalamin and several other vitamins such as thiamine and niacin. 

However, the good news is that alcoholic neuropathy isn’t fatal and one can treat it by reducing the alcohol intake and by an increase in consumption of vitamins. 

FAQs

1. Why does my face get numb when I drink alcohol?

There are many possible reasons why your face feels numb after drinking. Excessive alcohol consumption makes you intoxicated. It directly enters the bloodstream and slows down the circulatory system.

Furthermore, the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) becomes depressed due to over-consumption thereby causing numbness. The deficiency or malabsorption of vitamin B12 (cobalamin) also leads to neurological problems because it is essential for the healthy and proper functioning of the nerves.  

2. Can alcohol neuropathy be cured?

Yes, alcoholic neuropathy can be reversed by making some efforts. Although severe damage to the nervous tissues can’t be repaired and can be permanent, an early diagnosis can save the patient from the worst. The most effective way of treating neuropathy is to “STOP DRINKING.”

Other than this, consumption of vitamin supplementation can help a lot in improving nerve health. However, complete nerve damage can’t be cured or reversed and would lead to permanent immobility of the affected region.

3. Does alcoholic neuropathy come on suddenly?

No, alcoholic neuropathy cannot come on suddenly. Chronic alcohol consumption is the primary reason for getting neuropathy. So, it cannot come suddenly, it takes months and even years for alcoholic neuropathy to show up. It depends upon the extent of nerve damage, the more the damage takes place, the greater there would be chances of the disease to show up.  

Takeaway

The factors that make the face numb after drinking have been thoroughly discussed. In the case of alcoholic neuropathy, the patient will experience numbness, tingling, burning in the hands and feet or maybe, particularly in the toes and fingers, and muscle function loss in severe cases.

So, if you are a binge drinker and you experience any of the neurological symptoms, just go get yourself checked. The sooner the diagnosis is, the easier and more effective the treatment will be.

Mehrosh Ahmer

Mehrosh Ahmer

My name is Mehrosh Ahmer and I’m currently a student of MBBS at Jinnah Sindh Medical University. My passion for studying the wonder that is the human body and the desire to give back to my society has led me to pursue a career in medicine. As I research, I learn more about my field, and it improves my understanding. This is why I enjoy writing the articles so that more people might get to read about subjects that they otherwise might never encounter.

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