Does Drinking Alcohol Increase Your Risk for COVID-19? 2 Doctors Explain.

According to a recent article written by Mercey Livingston on 7/25/20, Dr. Edo Paz, Medical Director at K Health, and Dr. Tom Moorcroft, founder of Origins of Health, discuss the above topic for educational and informational purposes only.  Three relevant areas include the immune system, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and sleep.

The immune system, which keeps us healthy and protects us from illness, cannot function at maximum capacity if it is weakened by a substance such as alcohol.  The result is higher susceptibility to contracting any contagious illness, including COVID-19.  In addition, if alcohol is present in a person’s system when he/she comes into contact with a virus, the body’s chances of fighting it off are decreased.  This is due to the fact that it is easier for the pathogen (virus) to “take hold” and lead to an infection.

Alcohol also alters gut bacteria, which also affects the immune system.  Short and long term alcohol use can impair immune function because it leads to changes in microbiome, which are the organisms in the intestines that aid in normal gut function.  It can also lead to cell damage of the gut wall that can lead to leakage of microbes in the bloodstream, triggering inflammation.

ARDS can occur with COVID-19 and happens when fluid fills the lungs and prevents the body from getting enough oxygen.  This can result in death or severe lung damage, and heavy drinking and alcohol use can increase the risk for this on its own.  Healthy lungs are linked to a healthy immune system, and long term alcohol use is associated with an increased risk of developing ARDS, as the body is less able to ward off infection.

The final area discussed in the article is related to sleep, crucial for overall health and especially the immune system.  Skimping on sleep can lower proteins in the body that fight inflammation and infection, making a person more susceptible to illness.  For information on how GABA and melatonin (sleep hormones) are affected, visit the complete article at www.cnet.com at the above title.

In summary, the suggestion in the article is to avoid alcohol in order to keep the immune system functioning at its best.  If a person twenty-one or older does drink socially, consuming less is better.

For those who suffer from immunosuppression, are considered immunocompromised, and/or have a pre-existing medical condition, alcohol should be completely avoided.

For those who are struggling with alcohol use at this challenging time, help is available.  Contact Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse at 585-583-6738 to schedule an appointment.  Visit the Allegany Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc.and Partners for Prevention in Allegany County for resources.

Remember, Prevention Works!

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