Alcohol Consumption – How It Effects Covid and Immune System

The Covid-19 pandemic is a global cause for concern, affecting hundreds of thousands of people daily, and has spread to every major country. It has dampened many industries, such as food, stock, and sports, along with many other businesses. There are some industries and products that have seen a rise in profit, one of those products being alcohol. Before the pandemic, alcohol misuse was already a huge problem, but between the seven weeks of March 1st and April 18th, 2020 during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, data from the week March 21st indicated that alcohol sales for off-premises locations (e.g., liquor stores) had increased by 54% and online alcohol sales had increased by 262% compared to sales data from the same week in 2019 (1). During a time of great unease, discomfort, and apprehensiveness, people will use just about anything to ease their stress and forget the world’s troubles. Therefore, alcohol and covid go hand in hand. But there are many questions regarding alcohol and covid. Can you drink alcohol with Covid? What are alcohol’s effect on the immune system? Does drinking alcohol get rid of Covid? 

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Alcohol’s Effect on The Immune System

Alcohol’s effect on the immune system is very serious. Alcohol directly weakens your immune system when consumed moderately or in large quantities. The immune system is pivotal in fighting off potential viruses, infections, and bacteria that can harm you. A healthy lifestyle, such as regular exercise, consuming a balanced diet, and making sure to get enough sleep, keeps your immune system intact. But there are many factors that can lead to an unhealthy immune system, including smoking, stress, and drinking alcohol. These work against your immune system, making it harder to defend your body against dangerous viruses and bacterial infections. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Alcohol alters the makeup of your gut microbiome — home to trillions of microorganisms performing several crucial roles for your health — and affects those microorganisms’ ability to support your immune system. It seems that drinking alcohol may also damage the immune cells that line the intestines and serve as the first line of defense against bacteria and viruses.” (2) Alcohol’s effect on the immune system is detrimental to your health, and when consumed in excess, can lead to a lifetime of health problems. 

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Alcohol and Covid

Covid-19 is a new stress stimulator, but before drinking alcohol and covid as the stressor, there were many reasons for someone to indulge in alcohol. Work, relationships, social situations, depression, the list goes on as to why someone might drink alcohol, and why people abuse it daily. Moderate alcohol drinkers and  alcohol abusers, or people who suffer from alcohol use disorder, can suffer from a variety of short and long-term problems as the result of their drinking. Research suggests that there is no safe limit when it comes to drinking alcohol. Problems arising from alcohol use can include:

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  • Every major organ damage 
  • Weakening the immune system 
  • Different types of cancer 
  • Changing of decision-making, behavior, judgment, and thoughts 
  • Violence in many forms, including sexual, or against children, partner, and loved ones
  • Vehicular injuries from crashes

So, on its own, alcohol is already very dangerous. And mixed together, alcohol and covid are a very dangerous combination. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “heavy use of alcohol increases the risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), one of the most severe complications of COVID-19.” (3) ARDS is a condition in which fluid fills up the air sacs in your lungs, which affects your body’s oxygen supply. (4) Alcohol’s effect on the immune system is a weakening one, which makes it more likely you can catch a variety of infections and diseases. This is the same situation when it comes to alcohol and Covid. Covid is already an easily attainable virus, so if you are a long-term drinker with a damaged immune system, your body is more likely to catch Covid, and therefore more likely to have worst symptoms than someone who has a normal, healthy immune system. It is worse if you already have certain illnesses, such as pancreatitis and liver disease. These individuals have a higher chance of undergoing harsher covid-related symptoms. 

Can You Drink Alcohol With Covid?

Alcohol and Covid have the potential to be fatal, which is why WHO and the US surgeon general have both suggested that people slow-up on their drinking during the pandemic, as to make your body stronger against catching the virus. However, those who have caught Covid might be wondering “can you drink alcohol with Covid?” Since there is little research on Covid thus far, it can be hard to determine whether you can drink alcohol with Covid or not. But the limited research shows that if you think you can drink with Covid, you are in for a worse bout against Covid. Some people have bought into several ideas about alcohol and covid. Some people think drinking alcohol destroys the virus that spreads Covid. The truth is that drinking alcohol doesn’t destroy the virus. Its consumption is more likely to increase the risks that comes with being infected with Covid. Alcohol can have some effect on your skin as a disinfectant, but it doesn’t work that way when put into your system. Some have said that drinking hard liquor like whiskey, vodka, scotch, or bourbon (anything with 40% alcohol) destroys the Covid virus in the air. However, this is not true. Drinking alcohol doesn’t kill any virus in the air, and it will not clean out your mouth and throat. In general, it doesn’t give you any repellent against Covid. Lastly, some believe that alcohol stimulates immunity and a resistance toward the virus. Again, this is not true. Alcohol’s effect on the immune system is rather dangerous, and there is no research indicating that it protects against any kind of virus, disease, or infection. So, can you drink alcohol with covid? It’s suggested you drink water and other healthy fluids to help your body against catching or fighting off the covid virus. If you think you can drink alcohol with covid, you will be subjecting yourself to a more difficult battle against a disease that has potential to do serious harm to your health. Alcohol’s effect on the immune system is already detrimental, so mixed in with Covid, is a very dangerous game to play. 

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References:

  1. Alcohol Consumption during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Cross-Sectional Survey of US Adults (nih.gov)
  2. Does Alcohol Weaken the Immune System? Yes, If You Drink Too Much (insider.com)
  3. Alcohol-and-COVID-19-what-you-need-to-know.pdf (who.int)
  4. Can You Drink Alcohol if You Have COVID? – Las Vegas Alcohol Rehab (vjrc.org)