Taking it easy on the alcohol can increase your chances of fighting off COVID-19

Alcohol disrupts your ability to fight off infection and specifically can make you more susceptible to lung infections like the coronavirus.

Even though there isn’t anywhere to go, and boredom is a real thing, this is an especially good time to moderate our alcohol intake.

According to the World Health Organization, more than moderate alcohol consumption can increase your risk of COVID-19.

Try to keep the limit to one drink a day for women, two drinks for men, according to Michael Petry, M.D., family medicine physician with Norton Community Medical Associates – Crestwood.

“Alcohol can impair your judgment, for starters. Drinking too much might cause you to forget about hand-washing or to be in a risky social situation, getting exposed to the virus or exposing others,” he said.

Alcohol also changes your body in ways that make you much more susceptible to COVID-19 by inhibiting your body’s natural defenses against viruses and bacteria.

In addition to killing beneficial bacteria and damaging immune-fighting cells in your digestive system, alcohol disrupts the natural barrier that helps protect us from viruses and bacteria, according to Dr. Petry.

He noted that a study on alcohol and the immune system found that alcohol can increase susceptibility to pneumonia.

“Alcohol can disrupt the tiny, hair-like projections in your lungs — cilia — that protect you from pollution, bacteria and viruses. That can make you more susceptible to pneumonia. Viral pneumonia is one of the major complications of COVID-19, causing a lot of sickness and death,” he said.

A single episode of binge drinking can reduce your ability to recover from trauma, illness or surgery. If you binged on alcohol and then got exposed to the coronavirus, there’s a good chance your immune system would function so poorly you’d have a worse outcome, according to the doctor.

“As a family physician, I know coping with the isolation, job loss and other stresses from this pandemic can be difficult. People not normally at risk for alcohol abuse may be more likely to have issues with it,” he said. “Even so, this is not the time to use alcohol as a coping mechanism. You still need to take care of your mental and physical health.”

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