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Exogenosis: causes, symptoms, treatments

Verified on 06/23/2022 by PasseportSanté

Exogenosis is a term in medical jargon often used to qualify any pathology linked to increased or chronic alcohol consumption. These may be symptoms of drunkenness or illnesses directly or indirectly related to alcoholism.

What is exogenosis?

The term exogenous comes from the Greek exo (meaning “outside”), Genoa (meaning “begotten”) and osis (meaning “impulse”, “cause”).

Exogenosis designates a pathology by intoxication due to the consumption of a foreign body. In theory, it could be any type of poisoning (like metal poisoning or food poisoning). But in practice, this term is often used by doctors to describe any pathology related to increased or chronic alcohol consumption.

Exogenosis designates in the broad sense:

  • Acute poisoning linked to overconsumption of alcohol (drunkenness, alcoholic coma, etc.);
  • Chronic diseases linked to chronic alcoholism (malnutrition, chronic gastritis, liver failure, alcoholic cardiomyopathy, immune depression, cognitive disorders (Korsakoff syndrome), encephalopathy, neuropathy, stroke, myopathy, cancer, etc.);
  • Illnesses indirectly related to alcoholism (head trauma and accidental injuries, centropontine myelinolysis, stroke, neuro-infections, disulfiram neuropathies, fetal alcohol syndrome);
  • Withdrawal syndrome due to alcohol dependence, etc.

What are the different exogenoses?

Alcohol intoxication can lead to acute or chronic disorders.

Acute exogenoses

These are the immediate effects of excessive alcohol consumption. The patient may be subject to:

  • A simple drunkenness (joviality, disinhibition, incoherent remarks);
  • Delusional or pathological intoxication (behavioral disorders, sometimes violence or dangerousness, hallucinations, delusions);
  • Convulsive intoxication (single generalized seizure during acute intoxication in an occasional drinker, not requiring antiepileptic treatment);
  • An alcoholic coma: in the event of massive alcohol absorption, an encephalopathy can set in in the form of a phase of obnubilation then of stupor, finally of an alcoholic coma which can include signs of gravity (respiratory depression, hypothermia , hypotension, etc.) involving the vital prognosis and then requiring transfer to intensive care. Neurological sequelae are possible.
  • The hangover (headaches, digestive disorders, fatigue, intense thirst) or even a blackout (no memory of the day after the drunkenness).
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Chronic exogenoses

Chronic exogenoses refer to all diseases caused by chronic alcohol consumption. The main alcohol-related illnesses are:

  • Cancers (upper aerodigestive tract, esophagus, liver, breast, colon and rectum);
  • Cardiovascular diseases (arterial hypertension, angina pectoris, alcoholic cardiomyopathy, heart rhythm disorders, stroke, etc.);
  • Liver and digestive diseases (steatosis, fibrosis or cirrhosis of the liver, gastritis and chronic pancreatitis);
  • Neurological diseases (cognitive disorders, memory loss, Korsakoff syndrome, alcoholic polyneuropathy);
  • Malnutrition and nutritional deficiencies;
  • Metabolic diseases and electrolyte disorders (hypoglycemia, hypertriglyceridemia, hyponatremia);
  • Bone, skin and joint disorders (gout, osteoporosis, worsening of rosacea);
  • Alcohol dependence and withdrawal syndrome (anxiety, sweating, agitation, confusion, insomnia, tremors, even convulsions).

What are the treatments for exogenosis?

It is necessary to treat exogenous disease as well as its cause and this requires stopping alcohol consumption or withdrawal in the event of chronic alcoholism.

Treat acute exogenoses

In case of acute alcohol intoxication, it is advisable to stop its consumption immediately.

Drunk symptoms should subside over hours. In the event of a “hangover” (the day after drunkenness), it is recommended to rest, drink plenty of water (risk of dehydration), treat headaches (with NSAIDs or paracetamol) and eat a balanced diet.

In the event of an alcoholic coma, call 15 as soon as possible. While waiting for treatment, it is recommended to lay the patient on their side in a lateral safety position, to check their pulse and respiration, and to cover them to prevent a drop in their temperature.

In the hospital, management includes resuscitation, protection of the respiratory tract, blood gas analysis and a blood test. In general, the return home is envisaged 3 to 6 hours after the last ingestion of alcohol.

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Treat chronic exogenoses

In the event of a disease linked to chronic alcoholism, alcohol withdrawal should first be considered. A psychotherapeutic framework (in addictology), hospitalization and taking medication are most often necessary.

Three drugs currently have official marketing authorization for maintaining abstinence in alcohol-dependent subjects:

  • l’acamprosate ;
  • naltrexone;
  • le disulfirame.

Acamprosate and naltrexone are first-line treatments that can be used as soon as possible after stopping alcohol consumption, with the aim of reducing the craving for alcohol and thus the risk of relapse.

In addition, management of exogenous disease (consequence of chronic alcoholism) is also necessary. In the case of cancer, for example, chemotherapy or radiotherapy may be required.

Malnourished patients must be subject to lifestyle and dietary measures, a high-calorie diet and supplements. There are also specific treatments for neurological, digestive or even cardiovascular disorders.

What are the causes of exogenoses?

The cause of exogenosis is excessive or chronic alcohol consumption.

Excessive consumption

Once alcohol has entered the bloodstream, it has a direct effect on the central nervous system. We speak of a state of intoxication from a blood alcohol level of around 1 to 2‰. At the stage of torpor (alcohol level of 2 to 3‰), the main functions are seriously impaired.

The ability to react is thus practically non-existent. From a blood alcohol level of 3‰, an adult person can lose consciousness, fall into a coma and risk death. The body temperature then drops considerably, breathing is weak and respiratory paralysis is possible.

Chronic alcohol consumption

In the case of chronic alcoholism, the liver is the first organ affected, but it is not the only one: the neurological system is also very sensitive to it.

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Alcohol is a notorious carcinogen, especially in the digestive tract. Indeed, the liver filters most of the alcohol circulating in the blood.

Liver deterioration has three stages:

  • steatosis;
  • acute alcoholic hepatitis;
  • cirrhosis (almost total destruction of cells, which are replaced by scar tissue).

The liver atrophies and ceases to perform its work. When this organ malfunctions, there is a slow buildup of toxins, which also upsets brain activity.

In the long term, the main effect of alcohol is to slow down the activity of the central nervous system, and to cause sometimes irreversible neurological disorders.

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