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How Does Alcohol Consumption Affect the Immune System?

It’s also important for your immune health that you lead a generally healthy lifestyle. Try to eat a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, and get at least minutes of moderate exercise a day. If you currently smoke cigarettes or use other tobacco products, it may be worth trying to quit for the sake of your immunity. You should also try to minimize psychological stress; relaxation exercises like meditation or yoga may help.

How long until alcohol affects the body?

You might be surprised at just how fast alcohol begins to take effect. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism , alcohol enters your bloodstream as soon as you take that first sip. The effects kick in within about 10 minutes.

Consuming large amounts of alcohol on only one occasion can affect the body’s ability to defend itself against infections. A person can have impaired immune health for up to 24 hours after having too much to drink. Heavy drinking and chronic alcohol use can significantly impact the immune system and decrease immune function. The main function of the liver is to break down nutrients from digested food and detoxify toxic substances after they pass through the gut.

How Does Alcohol Affect Immune Health?

Additionally, it may result in post-operative problems and a slow recovery from wounds like fractured bones. The symptoms of a COVID-19 infection are very similar to many cold and flu viruses. Examples of common viruses include the common cold, influenza, and pneumonia. Symptoms may also be mistaken for that of other respiratory illnesses such as tuberculosis or coeliac disease.

does alcohol weaken your immune system

One episode of binge drinking has the chance to lower a person’s immunity for a full day. If you feel like you cannot control your drinking on your own, you may want to consider seeking addiction treatment. For example, depending on your level of alcohol use, quitting drinking may help resolve the first stage of alcohol liver disease.

Ways to Support the Immune System After Drinking

About one-third of all patients with wounds such as burns, broken bones, and brain and other tissue injuries have blood alcohol content above the legal limit at the time of injury. Alcohol intoxication not only increases the risk of such injuries but can negatively affect outcomes for these patients. Despite the damaging effects of alcohol on the immune system, it is still possible to decrease your risk of contracting COVID-19 and other viral infections by reducing the amount you drink. Since prolonged exposure to a virus such as COVID-19 (including those addicted to alcohol) can spread infections in healthy people and those with immune deficiency, this activity is risky. Excessive drinking can also damage your arteries’ lining, making it easier for plaque to build up and increase your chances of cardiovascular diseases. The result is that the immune system is likely to weaken over time and cause several health issues beyond heart failure.

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Studies on lab rats have shown that alcohol impairs the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory. Alcohol can also interfere with your body’s response to infection by inhibiting cytokines’ production. These are proteins that help communication between cells, disrupting red blood cells’ ability to transport adequate amounts of oxygen around the body. It also helps to fight cancerous tumors and helps to prevent an overgrowth of scar tissue in wounds.

Top Can the Use of Alcohol Affect the Immune System Related Articles

With such conditions, the body’s immune system attacks not only invaders but also its own cells. So if the liver’s immune system is unnecessarily activated due to heavy drinking, it can lead to liver disease. Excessive drinking can also affect your immune system’s antibodies, which are responsible for “marking” bacteria and viruses for your white blood cells to attack. Too much alcohol in your body confuses your antibodies, causing them to tell your white blood cells to attack healthy cells and make you more susceptible to illness and disease. Your immune system’s job is to help your body determine which cells are healthy or unhealthy. Your immune system protects you from harmful threats such as viruses and bacteria.

  • Although important for initiating inflammatory responses to bacteria, continued production of this chemical can damage tissue.
  • Like other respiratory infections, this disease usually affects an individual’s lungs.
  • Racial trauma, increased anxiety, loneliness, depression, sleep disturbances, and loss all negatively impact our mental states and increase our stress.
  • Alcohol has also been found to damage the white blood cells themselves.
  • Contrary to popular thought, drinking alcohol is not a helpful coping mechanism and it can negatively impact your mental health.

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