There are several bodily systems that may be harmed by frequent alcohol abuse, and one that sometimes doesn’t get enough attention during these kinds of conversations is the immune system. Responsible for preventing threats and keeping our bodies healthy, the immune system is a key part of overall wellness – but can be threatened in several ways by alcohol addiction.
At Moonlight Mountain Recovery, our alcohol addiction recovery programs for patients around Boise, plus nearby states like Washington and Oregon, are aimed at reducing these and many other negative effects of alcohol abuse. Here are some of the negative ways in which alcohol abuse impacts the immune system, the levels of alcohol needed to create these effects, and how to overcome these and other risks of alcohol addiction.
Why the Immune System is Vital
Before we get into the specifics of how alcohol affects this system, it’s important to understand why the immune system is so important. The immune system is responsible for helping our bodies defend against viruses, bacteria, infections and other sicknesses that can cause harm. Without a functioning immune system, these threats could take over and lead to serious health risks.
For instance, even the most common of illnesses, like a cold or flu virus, can be dangerous if your body is not equipped to stave off the infection. In this sense, the immune system is one of our most valuable allies when it comes to our overall wellness and health.
Killing Gut Health Bacteria
One of the chief functions of the immune system is to protect the gut from bad bacteria, parasites and other pathogens. This protection is vital for maintaining good health, but it can be weakened by heavy drinking.
When alcohol is consumed in large quantities or over a long period of time, healthy bacteria in the gut can become killed off, leaving us exposed to infection and disease. This is why people who drink heavily are more prone to illnesses like the common cold.
Decreasing White Blood Cells
Another way in which alcohol affects the immune system is by reducing our white blood cell count. White blood cells help us fight off bad bacteria, viruses and other infections that can cause serious harm to our bodies.
When the white blood cell count is lowered, our bodies become more vulnerable to these foreign invaders. This can make us prone to illnesses like pneumonia or tuberculosis, which can be serious and even fatal if left untreated.
Causing Poor Sleep Quality
Alcohol consumption can also interfere with our sleep patterns, which is another way in which it can impact the immune system. Poor sleep quality can decrease our bodies’ ability to fight off infections and diseases, and people who drink heavily may experience higher levels of fatigue and exhaustion due to this lack of restful sleep.
Body Prioritizes Alcohol Over Other Functions
When we consume large amounts of alcohol, our bodies prioritize breaking down the alcohol over other important functions. This means that when we drink heavily, our bodies are less focused on things like digestion and immune function.
This can further reduce our ability to fight off illnesses, as well as lead to other problems such as poor nutrition or digestive issues.
Finally, alcohol can also cause inflammation in the body. Inflammation caused by drinking can lead to further health problems, including chronic conditions such as heart disease or arthritis.
This is because when our bodies become inflamed it can interfere with normal bodily functions and reduce our ability to fight off infection or other diseases.
The Benefits of Alcohol Recovery for the Immune System
Fortunately, there are many benefits to recovering from alcohol addiction. The most obvious of these is that it can reduce the amount of damage done to our bodies by excessive drinking. In addition, it can also lead to improved immune system functioning and better overall health.
When we recover from addiction, our bodies are given the opportunity to heal and replenish the healthy bacteria in our guts. This can help improve digestion, reduce inflammation, and increase our bodies’ ability to fight off foreign pathogens.
At the same time, recovering from alcohol addiction can also lead to improved sleep quality and increased energy levels. This can make us less prone to infection or fatigue, as well as help us maintain overall good health.
Alcohol addiction can have serious consequences on our bodies, especially when it comes to our immune systems. By reducing healthy bacteria in the gut and decreasing white blood cell counts, we become more vulnerable to disease and infection. Additionally, drinking heavily can cause inflammation and interfere with restful sleep patterns.
At Moonlight Mountain Recovery, we understand how important it is for people to recover from alcohol addiction in order to improve their overall health. Through our comprehensive program of therapy and support, we can help you break free from the dangers of addiction and start on the path towards better physical and mental wellbeing. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you on your journey towards an addiction-free life in Boise, Washington or Oregon.