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Alcohol Abuse and Your Lungs

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Alcohol abuse has serious effects on human health. Most people are aware that abusing alcohol has negative effects on the liver. But, did you know about the connection between alcohol abuse and your lungs? We’re willing to bet you didn’t. Most people are surprised to hear about how alcoholism affects the lungs.

The truth is that heavy drinking and alcohol abuse can raise your risk for developing serious lung diseases and complications. In fact, there is a condition called Alcoholic Lung Disease, which is a result of an alcohol use disorder. Other lung problems associate with excess alcohol consumption include Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and reduce your total lung capacity, making it difficult for you to breathe.

Get Help So You Can Begin to Recover From an Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcohol use disorders can be very hard on the body as a whole, but there is good reason for hope. The sooner someone gets help and stops drinking, the better their chances are of recovering some, if not most of their health. The human body is remarkably resilient. If we remove the source of the trouble, alcohol in this case, the body can often to a lot of self-repair. One thing is for certain, if a person continues to drink or abuse alcohol, their health is not going to improve.

the human respiratory system

The Effects of Alcohol Abuse on the Lungs and Immune System

The effect that drinking alcohol has on our lungs has only begun to be understood in the last 10 years or so.  Even in that short time, it has become clear that abusing alcohol seriously affects the functionality of our lungs. In fact, alcohol’s effects on the lungs are one of several ways in which alcohol addiction undermines the human immune system. Our lungs are one of the most important lines of defense our immune system has. When lung function is below par, the immune system is invariably affected.

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Heavy drinking has been associated with an decline in total lung capacity, an increase in residual volume (the air left in your lungs after you exhale), and reduced capacity of the lungs to diffuse the oxygen into your blood.   All of which make it difficult for your body to efficiently transfer oxygen and other gasses to your blood. This can affect your health in all sorts of ways, as you can imagine. Everything from your energy levels and sleep to your ability to heal and fight off infection.

Other Ways Alcohol Addiction can Harm Your Lungs

Heavy drinking will also increase the intoxicating effects of anxiety and/or pain medications, which may dramatically slow down your breathing to the point of being life-threatening.  One study also linked alcohol abuse to increased movement of bacteria in your body, especially Streptococcus pneumonia, the bacterium that causes pneumonia as well as serious infections in other parts of the body such as meningitis, arthritis and even an infection in the bone!

It’s clear that alcohol abuse affects lung function, but how is it linked to serious lung diseases like COPD and ARDS?  New research indicates that alcohol abuse is an independent risk factor for ARDS.  In other words, alcohol abuse alone can increase your risk of developing ARDS.

In fact, one study reported that of the 200,000 Americans that develop ARDS each year, nearly 50% of the patients have a history of alcohol abuse.  Individuals with COPD need to be especially careful of their alcohol consumption and should have an open and honest discussion with their doctor about their drinking habits.

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Find Help for Alcohol Abuse and Save Your Lungs

Alcohol is a dangerous drug, but the studies show that reducing the amount of alcohol consumed and the duration of high consumption can stop damage from getting worse.  Heavy alcohol consumption over a long period of time causes the most damage, the sooner a person recognizes an alcohol problem and seeks help, the sooner they reduce their risk for serious side effects.

Alcohol abuse is treatable and many people live healthy sober lives after treatment.  The moment recovery begins, the body can begin to heal.  If you or someone you love is suffering from alcohol abuse, dependency or alcoholism, call us at (888) 989-1479 TODAY.

Alcohol abuse left untreated can damage not only the human body, but also your life and your family.  Fortunately treatment is effective, safe and has helped many men reclaim a healthy lifestyle. Destination Hope is a holistic mental health and substance use disorder treatment facility in Florida. We can help transform your life or the life of the person you love. Just remember, you must make the first move and contact us. We can’t help if you don’t call.

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