Effects of Alcohol on the Immune System

The immune system is the body’s defense mechanism against disease. It works around-the-clock, fighting off bacteria, toxins, microbes, viruses and parasites, but this highly important work often goes unnoticed until the immune system is impaired. The immune system is affected by everything that enters the body, especially toxins like drugs or alcohol. The short-term effects and dangers of alcohol intoxication are well known, including motor and cognitive impairment, reduced inhibitions, alcohol poisoning, accidents, injury, and nasty hangovers. However, what individuals are less aware of is the serious effects alcohol use can have on the immune system and one’s overall health, which are much more serious than hangover symptoms the next morning.

Alcohol suppresses the immune system and deteriorates one’s overall health. Excessive alcohol use is especially damaging to the immune system, and long-term alcohol consumption or addiction puts an individual at high risk for serious illness and infection.

How Does Alcohol Impact the Immune System?

Alcohol impacts the immune system because it deprives the body of needed nutrients. The immune system needs certain nutrients, vitamins and proteins to function, and alcohol is a toxin that “poisons” or destroys these nutrients. Alcohol also dehydrates the body, which reduces the body’s ability to flush out harmful toxins. When the body is dehydrated, vital organs are less capable of performing certain functions, and this weakens the immune system. Lastly, alcohol impacts the immune system because it obstructs the production of white blood cells, which are responsible for the functioning of the immune system. White blood cells fight off toxic chemicals, such as those that cause disease and infection, by producing antibodies. Alcohol impairs the functioning of white blood cells, which consequently suppresses the immune system and puts an individual at high risk for disease and infection. This also makes it harder for an individual to heal or recover from an illness. Frequent alcohol consumption, alcohol abuse, binge drinking and alcohol addiction all play a major role in one’s health and wellbeing. Binge drinkers, alcoholics and even functional alcoholics are extremely vulnerable to common sickness, infections and long-term illnesses, such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, HIV and cancer.

How Alcohol Affects Your Overall Health

Common long-term health effects of alcohol use include the following:

  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Liver disease or failure
  • Brain cell damage
  • Memory loss and dementia
  • Hepatic encephalopathy, which may cause sleep disorders, mood and personality changes, anxiety, depression, coordination problems, coma, shortened attention span and death
  • Stomach and intestinal ulcers
  • Pancreatitis
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Sperm cell reduction
  • Anemia
  • Increased risk for cancer of the mouth, esophagus, pharynx, larynx, liver and breast
  • Increased risk of heart disease and stroke

As alcohol abuse damages the immune system and makes individuals prone to illness and infection, a user’s overall health is seriously compromised.

Find Alcohol Addiction Recovery

The effects of alcohol are damaging to your health, relationships and wellbeing. If you are ready to end your addiction to alcohol, we can help. Please call our toll-free, 24-hour helpline where our trained addiction counselors can help you find the alcohol addiction recovery services that are right for you. We can connect you with alcohol addiction treatment and recovery services that provide holistic treatment for physical, mental and spiritual healing and lead to long-lasting sobriety results. Whether you still have questions or concerns, need information or are ready to find alcohol addiction recovery services today, we can help. Learn more about alcohol addiction treatment and recovery options by calling an addiction counselor now.

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