Media reports concerning the cause of Dr. Apollo Milton Oboteâ€™s death are contradictory. They claim he died of a stroke, or anaemia, or liver damage, or kidney failure.
Media reports concerning the cause of Dr. Apollo Milton Oboteâ€™s death are contradictory. They claim he died of a stroke, or anaemia, or liver damage, or kidney failure. What the ordinary person may not realise is that all such possible causes of Oboteâ€™s death are alcohol-related.
Obote was well known for alcoholism. President Yoweri Museveni makes reference to Oboteâ€™s drinking habits in his biography Sowing The Mustard seed.
The description fits into a category of alcoholism referred to as a functional alcoholic (an alcoholic who is capable of drinking without seriously affecting his work or social life).
But, his alcoholism may have taken its toll on his health.
Katherine Kethcam, the co-author of Under The Influence and William F. Asbury, author of Beyond The Influence, point out that â€œThe most common cause of death for alcoholics is cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and strokes) followed by cancer, suicide, accidents and cirrhosis of the liver.â€
They also point out that death certificates rarely list alcoholism as the cause of death! This appears to have been the case in Oboteâ€™s death.
Researchers point out that 10 out of 20 alcoholics develop liver disease.
Almost every drinker, alcoholic or not, experiences some build up of fat in the liver because alcohol interferes with the liverâ€™s ability to process fat.
As fat is deposited in the liver cells, the liver enlarges â€” a sign of alcohol-induced liver damage.
The second stage of liver disease is alcoholic hepatitis. This is characterised by the active inflammation of the liver, cell destruction and a certain degree of permanent liver damage.
Symptoms at this stage include: Liver-swelling, pain, tenderness, nausea, fatigue, fever and jaundice. Jaundice is caused by the liverâ€™s inability to eliminate dead red blood cells, leading to yellowing of the eyes and the skin.
â€œA sick liver is unable to produce sufficient amounts of proteins and blood clotting factors,â€ writes Kethcham and Asbury, â€œNor can it adequately control levels of cholesterol, fatty acids, and triglycerides.â€
Because alcohol interferes with the liverâ€™s ability to convert glycogen into glucose, heavy drinking can lead to blood sugar fluctuations, hypoglycemia and diabetes.
The liver also plays a big role in immunity by manufacturing proteins essential for antibody-production and a strong immune system. Alcoholics as a consequence, have low immunity against diseases.
A â€˜Beer bellyâ€™ is a sign of liver-disease. This belly is a result of an abnormal build up of fluid in the abdominal cavity called ascites. Liver cells clumping together and obstructing the full flow of blood and other fluids cause this.
Blood may also back up into the veins of the esophagus leading to esophageal varices. These veins can burst, causing instant death.
As the alcoholic continues to drink, â€œMore liver cells become inflamed,â€ explain Kethcham and Asbury, â€œand die. Healthy liver tissue is gradually replaced with fibre and scar tissue.â€ This condition is called alcoholic cirrhosis.
At this stage, blood flow is dramatically reduced; the blood becomes saturated with toxins. Cirrhosis of the liver occurs in 8% of alcoholics.
Two thirds of alcoholics with cirrhosis survive if they stop drinking.
If they continue to drink, death results from liver failure or esophageal haemorrhage.
â€œAlcohol and its metabolic acetaldehyde directly injure cell membranes and damage the Mitochondria in the heart (Myocardium),â€ explain AL .J. Mooney MD, Arlene Eisenburg and Howard Eisenburg, in their book The Recovery Book. â€œThey disrupt heart muscle activity and reduce the effectiveness of muscle contractions.â€
Even drinking moderately can lead to an increase in triglyceride (blood fat) levels and decreased amounts of high-density lipoproteins (good cholesterol). Both events lead to fatty deposits in the arteries.
â€œAs a result, high blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmia and alcoholic cardiomyopathy are common in alcoholics and cause 30% of alcoholic deaths,â€ say Kethcham and Asbury.
High blood pressure also increases the enlargement of blood vessels in the brain, leading to a greater risk of stroke.
Researchers, however, explain that most heart problems are reversible if the alcoholic stops drinking early.
Obote may have died of alcoholism