Alcohol Abuse and Your Lungs
Alcohol abuse has a serious impact on the human body. Beyond the consequences of heavy drinking or binge drinking on your liver, alcohol abuse and your lungs are a poor match.
Heavy drinking and alcohol abuse can raise your risk for developing serious lung diseases and complications such as Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and reduce your total lung capacity, making it difficult for you to breathe.
The Effects of Alcohol Abuse on the Lungs
It’s just in the last decade that we’ve begun to understand the impact of drinking on our lungs. Even in that short time, it has become clear that alcohol abuse seriously affects the functionality of our lungs.
Heavy alcohol consumption has been associated with an ongoing 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.
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.
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, please call us 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 full service drug, alcohol and dual diagnosis treatment facility in Florida for men suffering from substance abuse issues.