AN 11-YEAR-OLD boy has been treated for alcohol abuse in hospital as medics see a sharp rise in booze-related problems.
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the University Hospital of Hartlepool and the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, cared for 35 per cent more people who had been admitted or taken to A&E because of booze-related problems last year compared to 2005.
A 12-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl were among that number, while earlier this year an 11-year-old boy was also treated by medics.
Consultant gastroenterologist Richard Thomas, from the trust, warned that those regularly over-indulging with alcohol at such young ages are not only risking their lives now but will be a “health time-bomb” in the future.
Cirrhosis of the liver is the biggest danger and Mr Thomas said there are few warning signs that a possibly fatal problem is developing.
He told the Hartlepool Mail: “Alcohol is becoming one of the leading causes of health problems.
“It’s easy to get into a routine of regular drinking which is above the recommended safe limits, without realising you might be putting your health at risk.
“People who are regularly drinking heavily may feel perfectly fine at the moment but they are storing up serious health problems for the future.
“Liver disease doesn’t have many symptoms and the damage that heavy drinking does to you can build up on over a period of time without having any noticeable effects. It’s often only diagnosed when you have a blood test and by that time it can be too late and the damage is irreversible.
“I strongly urge people to stick to the recommended guidelines and know their limits.”
Guidelines say men should not drink more than three to four units daily and women no more than two to three units daily, and at least a couple of days a week should be alcohol free. Children should not drink at all.
Drinking above these levels is said to increase risk of heart disease, liver disease, stroke and cause other ailments.