Diseases related to alcohol consumption

Diseases related to alcohol consumption

Alcohol consumption is responsible for immune system suppression, but you can be sure, this is just the tip of the iceberg; it leads to many more diseases and health conditions. Among the many health effects of alcohol are the following:

• Stroke
• Cardiovascular disease
• Liver disease
• High blood pressure
• Infectious disease
• Digestive complications
• Dementia
• Cancer
• Alcohol use disorder
• Learning and memory issues

While the above list reveals some of the most outstanding health issues attributed to alcohol, these are just a few. It also causes kidney problems, lung issues and increases the risk of injury.

According to a survey involving 2,136 UK adults who were trying to or had tried with success or no success to quit alcohol:

• 1 in 3 participants had high blood pressure (31%)
• 1 in 6 participants had liver disease (17%)
• 1 in 3 participants had depression (38%)
• 1 in 10 participants had cirrhosis (12%)
• 1 in 11 participants had seizures (9%)
• 1 in 10 participants had cardiovascular disease (11%)
• 1in 13 participants had cancer (7.8%)
• 1 in 7 participants had a weakened immune system (15%)
• 1 in 11 participants had seizures (9%)
• 1in 13 participants had cancer (7.8%)
• 1 in 10 participants had nerve damage (11%)
• 1 in 12 participants had pancreatitis (8.4%)

Infectious Diseases

Alcohol suppresses the body’s immune system, increasing the risk of infections. Moreover, it makes it hard for the body to recover if you have an infectious disease. Some severe infectious diseases, including HIV and hepatitis C, are associated with alcohol consumption. While the two can be caused by unprotected sex and IV needles, alcohol is a significant contributor. It lowers inhibition and impairs judgment increasing the likelihood of risky situations, and in the long run, its compromise on the immune system makes it easier to get these infections.

Lung Diseases

Alcohol is responsible for several lung diseases, and the most notable one is pneumonia. This is a serious lung disease caused by viral and bacterial infestation in the lungs. The immune system floods the infected part with fluids and immune cells to help beat the infection. While this is necessary, it could drown you; hence antibiotics are considered the better option to counter this infection.

Alcohol also weakens the lung’s inner lining making it hard to dispose of viruses and bacteria that can cause pneumonia. Even worse, alcohol-induced vomiting can cause pneumonia in a victim who accidentally inhales their vomit.

Since alcohol compromises the immune system, it becomes hard for the body to fight lung diseases and even harder to recover from a pneumonia infection.

Alcohol and COVID-19

There might be little research on the effect of alcohol on COVID-19 cases. However, some of the infections associated with alcohol are also related to COVID-19. Pneumonia and cytokine storm (an inflammatory condition) are the biggest complications associated with COVID-19, and the same is common in alcohol victims. Though there is limited research, clearly alcohol consumption increases the risk of fatal COVID-19 complications.

With the pandemic’s effects such as isolation, stress and boredom, alcohol consumption has increased. Individuals who never struggled with alcohol before are drinking more, compromising their immune health at a time when it should be promoted more.

Immune System Repair and Support after Drinking

After quitting alcohol, healing focuses on promoting and boosting the body’s immune system’s health. Harvard Health Publishing recommends the following tips:

• Quit smoking
• Adopt a fruit and vegetable-rich diet
• Exercise regularly
• Getting enough sleep
• Avoid stress
• Maintain healthy body weight
• Be hygienic

While these tips will significantly promote and boost your immune system, quitting alcohol is the best tip to heal it. In the current pandemic, it is also important to religiously follow the health hygiene rules and guidelines recommended by health institutions.

Does alcohol weaken the immune system?

The immune system comprises cells, proteins, chemicals, and special organs that fight infection. When you are exposed to a virus or get an infection, your immune system mounts an immune response to attack and eliminate the foreign pathogen. Generally, the healthier your body’s immune system is, the quicker it clears out the virus.

However, your immune system can take time to recognise and build a full immune response to an infection. That’s why when you get an infection, your symptoms often get worse before they get better since your immune system gets stronger with time, eventually killing the infection.

If you consume alcohol, your immune system can take even longer to fight off an infection. This is because alcohol can suppress and weaken the immune system, affecting how it responds and recognizes infections. That’s why alcohol consumers are more vulnerable to infections caused by viruses and bacteria, and their infection symptoms last longer.

In severe cases when the body cannot clear the infection, you may be forced to take antibiotics to kill the pathogens.

Short term effects of alcohol on the immune system

Many individuals tend to assume that alcohol only negatively impacts the immune system of heavy drinkers. While this isn’t entirely false, it’s not always the case. Normally, alcohol makes it harder for the immune system to recognize, respond, and defend the body against infections. Therefore, even the smallest consumption of alcohol can weaken your immune system.

According to the NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism), a single drinking episode can suppress your immune system for up to one day. Alternatively, other studies show that drinking even once can weaken your immune system for a short period.

Long-term changes of alcohol on the immune system

Generally, alcohol use for prolonged periods causes long-term changes to your body. For instance, extended alcohol use can trigger inflammation in the gut, destroying micro-organisms that maintain the gut’s immune system health. Additionally, long-term alcohol use can affect immune system cells, leading to an increased risk of severe diseases and complications such as pneumonia and tuberculosis.

While understanding alcohol’s actual effects on the immune system is difficult, it’s no secret that chronic alcohol use causes adverse effects on the body and immune system. It not only results in infections that a healthy person wouldn’t normally have but also causes unpleasant effects and medical problems.

How much alcohol is too much?

In today’s world, staying away from alcohol can be impossible because it plays an essential role in social engagement and bonding. From parties to work events, many people find moderate alcohol consumption and social drinking pleasurable.

Unfortunately, most individuals don’t realize that alcohol distracts the body from other essential functions such as fighting off disease. Hence, alcohol consumption, especially in excess, has negative impacts on the body and immune system. According to NIAAA, excessive or heavy drinking is defined as drinking more than four drinks per day for males and three drinks per day for females.

Although some studies suggest that light or moderate drinking may have positive effects on immune health, this research is unproven and controversial. Alcohol consumption is linked to numerous negative outcomes such as alcohol dependence, addiction, and road accidents, so the slightest consumption causes adverse effects.

The best way to prevent alcohol from damaging your immune system is by avoiding its use altogether. However, if you’re a light drinker – consume less than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women – you’re less likely to experience the adverse effects alcohol has on your immune system than a person who drinks excessively.

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