Alcohol Is Harmful! So How Does Alcohol Weaken Our Immune System?

- May 04, 2020-

As people tried to get rid of boredom during confinement, many alcoholic beverages were quickly sold out, and some reports estimated that sales of alcoholic beverages surged by 55% at the end of March.

The surge in sales of alcoholic beverages has worried health experts and officials around the world, who are concerned that increased drinking may make people more susceptible to this respiratory disease.

The Director of the US Department of Health warned high-risk adults not to drink alcohol. Soon after, the World Health Organization (WHO) also recommended that people reduce alcohol consumption because alcohol increases the risk of COVID-19 complications.

The WHO says: "Drinking alcohol is associated with a range of infectious and non-infectious diseases and mental health disorders. These diseases make a person more susceptible to COVID-19. In particular, alcohol can damage the body ’s immune system and increase adverse effects The risk of health consequences. "

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Although data on the link between alcohol and COVID-19 are still limited, past evidence has shown that drinking alcohol can damage the lungs and intestines and damage cells responsible for immune function, thereby aggravating the symptoms of other respiratory diseases.

Drinking alcohol can damage immune cells of key organs

When a person is exposed to a virus, the body responds immunely, attacking and killing foreign pathogens.

In general, the healthier a person's immune system is, the faster it can clear the virus and recover from diseases like COVID-19.

Alcohol makes it harder for the immune system to prepare and protect the body from harmful bacteria.

Dr. E. Jennifer Edelman, a medical expert on drug addiction at Yale University, said: "Alcohol can have a variety of adverse effects on the body, including all cells of the immune system, thereby increasing the risk of serious infections."

For example, in the lungs, alcohol damages immune cells and cilia, and the important role of these cells and cilia is to remove respiratory pathogens.

Dr. Alex Mroszczyk-McDonald, a family intern at the University of Southern California, said: "If a person ’s cells in the respiratory tract wall are damaged by alcohol, the virus particles are more likely to enter the cell, making immune cells unable to resist infection, resulting in more serious diseases. The overall risk of complications is increased. "

Similarly, alcohol can cause intestinal inflammation, destroy the source of microorganisms in the intestine, and maintain the health of the immune system.

Mroszczyk-McDonald said: "Ingestion of alcohol can kill normal healthy intestinal bacteria-these bacteria help promote health and reduce the risk of infection."

When the body is unable to clear the pathogen, the infection may worsen and lead to more serious life-threatening complications.

Past research has shown that drinking alcohol can cause more serious lung diseases, such as adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and other lung diseases, including pneumonia, tuberculosis, and respiratory syncytial virus.

Many health experts believe that COVID-19 may do the same.

Edelman said: "For COVID-19, alcohol may interfere with a person's ability to remove SARS-CoV-2, causing people to suffer more severe consequences, including ARDS, which usually leads to death."

Alcohol can disrupt other functions of the body

Drinking alcohol also makes it harder for your body to perform other key functions normally, such as fighting disease.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, once you take a sip of alcohol, your body will preferentially break down alcohol over other body functions. The human body has no way to store alcohol like carbohydrates and fats, so it must immediately send alcohol to the liver where it is metabolized.

In addition, it is known that alcohol can impair sleep quality. And the less one sleeps, the greater the risk of getting sick.

A reliable study found that people who sleep less than 7 hours are nearly three times more likely to catch a cold than people who sleep 8 hours or more.

The Mayo Clinic said that lack of sleep also affects how long it takes a person to recover after getting sick.

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How much is too much?

According to Mrozzzyk-McDonald, it is unclear how much alcohol is consumed and when it begins to damage the immune system.

Past data show that alcoholism can have a huge impact on the immune system.

Mroszczyk-McDonald said: "Studies have shown that high doses of alcohol (about 14 glasses per week, or more than 5 to 6 glasses at a time) will indeed directly suppress the immune system, and alcohol abuse increases the risk of infection."

That said, reliable evidence suggests that even small amounts of alcohol can affect the immune system.

Mroszczyk-McDonald recommends not to drink too many times a week, only two to three glasses at a time.

For those with COVID-19 risk factors, such as heart disease or diabetes, he recommends drinking less.

Mroszczyk-McDonald said: "Those with increased risk should reduce or quit drinking, because at this point, every little thing a person does to improve health and reduce risk is worthwhile, even if the evidence is not completely clear."

Bottom line

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Department of Health warned people not to drink too much alcohol during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alcohol can have a series of harmful effects on the body. It can reduce a person's immune response and make them more susceptible to COVID-19.

Therefore, health experts recommend not to drink alcohol more than a few times a week. Those who are known to have risk factors for COVID-19, such as heart disease or diabetes, should drink less alcohol.