We have all heard the acronym BAC, but do we really understand what this means and how it affects our daily life? BAC stands for blood alcohol content. Most of us only know BAC in terms of driving under the influence. The legal limit for driving is a BAC of 0.08%. BAC is a way to measure blood ethanol concentration. This measurement of alcohol levels in the blood stream is used for medical purposes as well as legal purposes. How does this number really affect our bodies?
BAC is expressed as the percentage of ethanol in the blood in units of alcohol per volume of blood. Basically, a BAC of 0.1% means that there are 0.10 grams of alcohol for every deciliter of blood. Alcohol is introduced into the body through drinking. When alcohol is consumed, it passes down the esophagus, through the stomach, and into the small intestine. A small amount of alcohol is absorbed into the blood stream through the mucous membrane, the majority of alcohol enters the bloodstream through the walls of the small intestine. Alcohol is absorbed more slowly in the stomach, rather than the intestines, therefore alcohol consumed while eating, spends longer in the stomach and is absorbed more slowly. After being absorbed, alcohol passes to the liver, where the first pass of metabolism occurs, before entering the blood stream.
We heard of supposed tricks to stay drunk longer, or sober up more quickly, but honestly coffee will not help you sober up. Alcohol is removed from the blood stream through, metabolism, excretion, and evaporation. About 95% is metabolized through the liver. Your body excretes the remainder through breath, urine, sweat, etc. Excretion usually begins after 40 minutes, where metabolism on the other hand begins as soon as alcohol is absorbed.
Some say a glass of red wine can help with heart health, but a few bottles everyday are probably not the best idea. When drinking, alcohol can negatively affect your major organs. Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication system, which makes it harder to think clearly. The effects on the brain are also the reason your mood and behavior can change while drinking. This is also why you may not have the best coordination after a few drinks. Drinking for long periods of time also causes unnecessary stress on your heart as well as your liver. Drinking too much can also weaken your immune system. This is not something you may normally think of, but chronic drinkers are more likely to contract diseases. Consuming a lot of alcohol during a single occasion can lower your body’s ability to ward of infections, even up to 24 hours after getting drunk.
Alcohol can stay in your system for hours. Drinking water and spreading your drinks over time does lower your BAC. If you’re BAC was 0.08% it would take approximately 5 hours and 20 minutes to be eliminated from the body because the body metabolized alcohol at the rate of about 0.005% per twenty minutes. Most people measure their BAC through a breathalyzer test. On average the ration of blood alcohol content to breath alcohol content is 2100 to 1. This can vary by individual of course. Breath alcohol testing assumes that the test is post-absorptive, which means that the alcohol is finished being absorbed by the body. If you are still drinking, then your test results will be inaccurate. Consult a knowledgeable DUI Lawyer if you have any questions.
The only way alcohol will not affect your body is if you choose not to drink. The best way to protect yourself when drinking is to make sure you have the knowledge to be safe. Understanding what a BAC is, how it affects your body, and how it is measured are important facts to have to make sure you and your friends are safe and responsible when drinking.