The effects of heavy drinking are far-reaching because people may not realize how drinking impacts many systems within the body, one being the immune system. The immune system is the body’s defense against infection and illness. When that is compromised, it becomes harder for the body to fight different illnesses and stay healthy. We’re going to look at how alcohol impacts the immune system, how you can boost immunity by not drinking, and how alcohol rehab in Costa Mesa can help.
How Alcohol Affects the Immune System: Impacts
Drinking too much alcohol affects the immune system by disrupting immune pathways. It’s these disruptions that impact the body’s ability to fight infection as well as contribute to organ damage.1 Here are a few other impacts on the health of a person with a drinking problem.
Alcohol’s Impact on the Gastrointestinal Tract
Since alcohol goes through the gastrointestinal (GI) system first, it passes through the body and gets absorbed into the bloodstream. This can affect the GI tract’s structure by changing the numbers and relative abundances of microbes in the gut microbiome. This is a set of microorganisms in the intestine that help the gut function regularly.1 Alcohol disrupts the communication between these organisms and the intestines. It also damages cells which disrupts gut barrier function and leads to the leakage of microbes into the circulation.2 When there is leakage of bacterial products from the gut, it can trigger inflammation in the liver.
Respiratory Illnesses and Cancer
Alcohol has also been linked to pulmonary diseases like tuberculosis and other respiratory illnesses. This is because it disrupts ciliary function in the upper airways and impairs how immune cells function. Alcohol-immune interactions can also lead to certain cancers progressing in the body.1
Researchers have looked at how alcohol can interfere with the body’s immune response against cancer since chemotherapy is most successful when the immune system is fully functional.
While chronic alcohol consumption can lead to a lower immune system, research shows that acute binge drinking also negatively impacts the immune system.
Traumatic Injury Recovery
Alcohol can impact recovery from three several types of trauma by affecting immune homeostasis:1
- Hemorrhagic shock
- Traumatic brain injury
Recovery from tissue injury is also affected – learn more about the effects of alcohol on physical health.
Besides these types of trauma, alcohol consumption can compromise the immune system’s ability to fight COVID-19.2 Alcohol impairs the body’s defenses, so drinking will make it even harder to fight the coronavirus. This is especially concerning since statistics show that nearly 1 in 5 Americans is consuming an unhealthy amount of alcohol since the pandemic began.2
Alcohol Use, Sleep, and the Immune System
Alcohol use reduces a person’s sleep quality and duration. Lack of sleep is known to negatively affect the immune system, which can make it harder for people to fight off illness. Studies show that people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to get sick from a virus if exposed.3
When you sleep, the immune system releases cytokines. These proteins need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation.3 If you’re not sleeping enough, your body is not releasing enough cytokines and is not getting the tools it needs to fight infection.
If someone stops drinking, they can start to sleep better, which can help to boost their immunity. This, along with repairing cells previously impacted by alcohol consumption, can help people have a better immune system to fight off illness.
Boost Immunity by Not Drinking with Alcohol Rehab in Costa Mesa
If you or someone you love is fighting a substance abuse disorder, the team at Clear Life Recovery is here to help. With alcohol rehab in Costa Mesa, patients can learn how to live a healthier life without alcohol.
By becoming sober, a person can boost immunity by not drinking and improving other habits like sleep and gut health. Our experienced team works to form a treatment plan that works for each individual. Contact the Clear Life Recovery team today or reach out to us online for more information.