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Alcoholism and The Immune System

Alcoholism can put a person at risk for many life-threatening diseases including those affecting the liver, heart, and pancreas.  But what about the common cold, a sinus infection, or strep throat.  What’s that like for someone with alcoholism?  I have a cold today, and I got curious.  Here’s what I found out.

Fluids Flush Out Toxins and Alcohol Dehydrates

Doctors always push fluids, fluids, and more fluids when your body is dealing with an infection.  Fluids help flush out the germs, keep your mucus flowing to prevent congestion, and generally support the germ-fighting activity of your white blood cells. 

Well, what if you are drinking all kinds of hard alcohol or a 12-pack of beer every day?  Alcohol dehydrates you, so medical professionals often recommend that you avoid alcohol when you have a cold or the flu.  If you are already drinking an excessive amount, your body is “in the hole” when it comes to fluid balance. 

Alcohol Limits White Blood Cells Abilities

Alcohol in large amounts also limits the ability of white blood cells to fully fight an infection.  Also, drinking lots of alcohol takes the place of nutritious food.  This decreases a person’s nutritional intake over time, depriving the body of vitamins and minerals needed to build a healthy functional immune system.  Nothing, not even the best vitamin supplements, can replace the nutritional value of healthy food.  With all this, the alcoholic’s body is always a few steps behind when a germ invades.

When your body spends a lot of resources and energy flushing all the alcohol out of your body, it has little left to deal with germs waiting to get in.  Like a castle left with just a few guards at the main entrance, infection can easily get established.

Brown Bottle Flu And The Common Cold Bad Combination

You know how awful you feel when you have a bad cold or the flu – headache, fever or chills, achy muscles, stuffy head, raw throat, fatigue.  Now think about a hangover – headache, achy muscles, upset stomach, fatigue.  Hmm….no wonder a hangover is often called the “brown bottle flu”.  Can you even imagine how it feels to have both of these going on at the same time?

Some people may try using the excuse that drinking helps prevent colds and illness.  Well, having a small amount of alcohol helps the body to relax.  Stress and chronic muscle tension can weaken a person’s immune system  But in this case, more is not better.  The damage from excessive alcohol completely overshadows any benefits from increased relaxation.

Alcohol Rehab For a Healthy Immune System

A person with alcoholism needs alcohol rehab for many reasons.  Obviously, stopping the consumption of large amounts of alcohol is the first step.  When all the problems have persist and gotten worse, keeping the toxins out of the system will have the greatest first impact. 

Alcohol rehab is also a place for people to regain and nourish their physical health.  No doubt they have experienced more infections and illnesses than most other people.  They need time to learn healthy eating habits, exercise routines, and to strengthen their immune system.  Going to alcohol rehab is the best way for an alcoholic to get a strong immune system.

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