Sober living

Alcohol & The Immune System: How Alcohol Can Lower Your Immune System

Moderate drinking is defined as up to one drink per day for people assigned female at birthday and up to two drinks per day for people assigned male at birth, per the NIAAA. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers “moderate drinking” to consist of one standard drink per day for women or two standard drinks per day for men. A “standard drink” is defined as 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, or a 1.5 ounce shot of liquor. You may have noticed that after a long period of excessive drinking, you catch colds more frequently. Alcohol can weaken your immunity to bacteria and viruses in several ways. Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT) for substance use disorders and mental health disorders are commonly used in conjunction with one another.

“Alcohol also destroys the protective lining inside your respiratory tract that your immune system uses to prevent upper respiratory tract infections like the common cold,” Dasgupta says. Lung conditions linked to alcohol include pneumonia, tuberculosis and acute respiratory distress syndrome, according to the NIAAA. Excessive alcohol consumption can inflame tissues contributing to major causes of death such as heart disease, liver disease/hepatitis, cirrhosis, and pancreatitis. While drinking alcohol can certainly make you feel sick, alcohol itself does not cause infection. However, it does damage or slow down different parts of the immune system.

Alcohol And Immune System

Fatty liver is usually completely reversible in about four to six weeks if you completely abstain from drinking alcohol. Cirrhosis, on the other hand, is irreversible and likely to lead to liver failure despite abstinence from alcohol, according to Dr. Menon. Within the GI tract, alcohol exposure can also alter the number and abundance of microorganisms present within the microbiome, all of which play an important role in normal GI function. In addition to its adverse effects on GI functioning, the impact of alcohol on the GI microbiome can also alter the maturation and functions of the immune system. The immune system is typically categorized into the innate and adaptive immune response systems, both of which are essential components in the body’s defense against pathogens. One study found that people who got less than 7 hours of sleep were nearly three times more likely to develop a cold compared with those who got 8 or more hours of sleep.

Equally important, however, is the immune system’s ability to detect tissue damage and direct the body’s response, including removing damaged tissue and assisting in subsequent tissue repair and regeneration. To perform all of these tasks, the immune system relies on an elaborate network of highly specialized cells that interact in a tightly orchestrated way. The largest contributor to alcohol-induced suppression is binge drinking.

Moderate Alcohol Use

Understanding the impact of alcohol on the body’s immune system is important. Frequent and heavy alcohol consumption can suppress the immune system, making the body vulnerable to viruses and infections. Alcohol misuse can cause short-term effects such as the common cold or gastrointestinal complications, but it can also lead to more serious conditions such as cancer, septicemia, or, liver disease. These disruptions to the composition of the gut microbiota and to gut barrier function have important implications beyond the intestinal system. Infection with viral hepatitis accelerates the progression of ALD, and end-stage liver disease from viral hepatitis, together with ALD, is the main reason for liver transplantations in the United States.

How much alcohol is too much?

Heavy drinking includes binge drinking and has been defined for women as 4 or more drinks on any day or 8 or more per week, and for men as 5 or more drinks on any day or 15 or more per week.

It’s important to know how much you are drinking and understand the risks. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, moderate alcohol consumption is defined as having up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. Heavy drinking is typically defined as consuming 15 drinks or more per week for men, and consuming 8 drinks or more per week for women. Substances like drugs and alcohol, each affect the immune system in different ways, but most work to weaken the immune system. This puts an addicted individual at higher risk of infection, contraction of diseases, and weaker organs which means a weakened filter system to fight the effects of substances.

Other Alcohol Considerations for This Time

Setting a nighttime routine to promote better sleep gives your body time to truly rest and heal. Your body is extremely capable of taking care of itself but it needs the proper maintenance and energy to do so. After drinking has fully stopped, it’s time to take steps towards your overall health that also increase the strength of your immune system. If you need support in reducing your alcohol consumption, get in touch today and let us help you turn your life around. You are drinking alcohol in excess decreases the effectiveness of Interferon. Your immune system produces this protein in response to an infection or virus.

does alcohol weaken your immune system

Yet, many are surprised that drinking alcohol can also make you more susceptible to viruses such as COVID-19. If you drink alcohol to excess, your immune system will not function as well as it should. While the exact mechanisms are unknown, it’s known that excessive alcohol consumption suppresses your body’s immune response.

The sober-curious movement encourages people to question their drinking habits and the reason they reach for a drink in the first place. Heavy drinking may make you more prone to flu or cold, and the COVID-19 virus. That’s why hard drinking can lead to diarrhea, which can turn into a long-term problem. It also makes heartburn more likely because it relaxes the muscle that keeps acid out of your esophagus, the tube that connects your mouth and stomach.

  • For this reason, it is advisable to go to a rehab center, where the staff can help monitor worsening symptoms.
  • Alcohol use, especially chronic use, raises pneumonia and inflammation risks.
  • That is, by drinking too much, you decrease your body’s defensive mechanisms to fight off a cold, virus, or other bacterial or viral infections.

For example, some studies suggest that moderate alcohol drinking can affect fertility for some women. Research also shows that heavy drinking by men may lower testosterone levels and affect the making of sperm. The best way to deal with health issues stemming from alcohol use disorder, including compromised immune function, is to stop drinking alcoholic beverages. But even moderate alcohol consumption is thought to have some effect on the immune system and, potentially, on how your body handles any bacterial or viral infections you may face in the following days. These effects are worse if you practice binge drinking or heavy drinking over a period of a few days.

Minor changes one day at a time can make a big difference in your health. Smoking is terrible for your immune system and is damaging to your lungs. It’s so toxic to our bodies that dietitians often recommend that smokers increase their intake of vitamin C.

does alcohol weaken your immune system

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *