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Does Alcohol Lower Your Immune System?

Alcoholic drinks have long been associated with a weakened immune system. Studies show that heavy drinkers are more likely to catch colds and other infections. Is it really the alcohol that weakens your immune system, or is there another explanation?

How Does Alcohol Impact Your Immune System?

Experiencing the adverse effects of alcohol consumption on your immune system can be explained by the indirect effect of drinking. The chemicals in alcohol — ethanol — slow down your body’s ability to fight infection.

Affects Your Liver

Your liver is responsible for producing white blood cells that help fight infection. When you drink alcohol, your liver tends to become overworked. This can slow down your production of white blood cells, which leaves you more vulnerable to contracting infections.

Additionally, alcohol can impair your liver’s ability to process B vitamins. B vitamins are essential to a healthy immune system. When your liver is less efficient at processing B vitamins, your immune system is weakened. Not only that, alcohol has been proven to damage the liver, which can result in death.

Weakens Your Body’s Defenses

Your body’s white blood cells protect you from invading bacteria and viruses. As part of this process, they release chemicals that create inflammation. This inflammation is essential because it causes your body to fight infection. However, too much inflammation can be harmful.

The enzymes that cause inflammation are metabolized by the same enzymes in your liver that process B vitamins. When you consume too much alcohol, it can inhibit the production of these enzymes making your body’s defenses less effective. This means that your immune system can’t fight off infections as well as it normally would.

Changes Your Response to Stress

Stress is another factor that can weaken your immune system. When you’re stressed, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. This hormone prepares your body to handle stress by raising your heart rate and blood pressure. Cortisol also suppresses your immune system in order to prevent your body from overreacting to stress.

When you drink alcohol, it disturbs your body’s ability to handle stress. This can cause your immune system to be less effective at fighting infections.

Seeking Treatment for Alcohol Abuse

These are just a few examples of the ways that alcohol can negatively impact your life. Living in a culture where alcohol consumption is very much accepted and even encouraged tends to water down how devastating it can be to your physical, mental, social, and financial health. When it comes to alcohol abuse, a cold can be the least of your worries.

You may see alcohol getting a lot of credit in the world today. According to advertisements, television shows, and movies, alcohol can make socializing more fun, reduce stress, and make any good experience feel even better. However, if you think you might struggle with alcohol abuse, you’re already learning that this myth isn’t true. Alcohol has numerous effects on the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of your life, and science has proven that the further you get away from alcohol consumption, the better off you are. Call The Guest House at (855) 483-7800 for treatment options.