Does Alcohol Cause Inflammation?

There are many causes of chronic diseases that could result in death. Some studies have found one recurring thread among all of them: chronic inflammation. Some believe that alcohol could be to blame. So, the question is, does alcohol cause inflammation?

Being that it’s present in liver disease, one can’t help but wonder whether or not alcohol could play a role in inflammation. Some studies have been conducted in recent years to suggest that alcohol both causes inflammation, and weakens the body’s defense against inflammation.

To give some additional context, chronic inflammation happens to also be a risk factor for the following diseases:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Liver disease

As a result, the body could undergo significant organ damage. In a nutshell, drinking alcohol excessively does cause inflammation, and can result in long-term damage to the body.

What is Inflammation?

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury, bacteria, or viruses; it is a vital part of the body’s immune system. For example, you may have fallen off of a bike before (not fun). When this happened, you probably wound up with a few cuts. Shortly after, if it was not treated, the cut probably became warm and red. This is what the body does to fight infection.

What Does Inflammation Do to Your Body?

Inflammation helps when the body is fighting infection by sending blood, protein, and fluid to the infected area (hence the swollenness). This swelling is the body’s way of repairing any damaged tissue. But what happens once everything is healed up?

When the body is healed, swelling and inflammation should go down. Not only that but the infection should be gone as well. There are, however, some circumstances in which the inflammation could take a turn for the worse and become chronic. Chronic inflammation can have a disastrous effect on someone’s overall health. 

What Are the Effects of Chronic Inflammation?

The body is on its toes more than ever when it experiences chronic inflammation. When chronic inflammation occurs, it can lead to diseases (ironically). With chronic inflammation, organs start to shut down, which, in most cases, proves deadly. Some more visible effects include the following:

  • Asthma
  • Arthritis
  • Ulcers
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Hepatitis
  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Liver Disease
  • Cancer

When inflammation occurs in the body, the rest of the immune system is affected. As far as alcohol is concerned, the inflammation in the gut caused by alcohol abuse can increase inflammation in the rest of the body. Because inflammatory cells exist to help rid the body of infection, successful treatment must first control the inflammation instead of eliminating it. So how are people supposed to fight it realistically?

Inflammation is preventative. A good deal of prevention has to do with lifestyle changes, which means you kind of has to think proactively. Getting ahead of inflammation before it gets ahead of you is imperative to a healthy lifestyle. This could mean exercising more, making rest a priority, and making changes to your diet.

How Does Alcohol Cause Inflammation?

There’s no cookie-cutter explanation for inflammation caused by alcohol; everybody is different in terms of factors that may influence alcohol-induced inflammation. In other words, too much alcohol for one person may look completely different than too much alcohol for another. Alcohol abuse over a long period could influence the following to happen:

  • Dysbiosis
  • Intestinal Permeability
  • Inhibited Immune Response

However, regardless of who you are, heavy alcohol consumption over a long period will inevitably lead to inflammation. This could have a disastrous impact on the body’s organs and intestines. After a while, the inflammation can get worse if changes aren’t made, resulting in organ damage or failure (especially for the liver and brain).

What is Dysbiosis?

In everyone’s gut, there are unharmful and harmful bacteria; what’s worse is when there’s an imbalance. This is referred to as dysbiosis. When someone is dealing with dysbiosis, it has a massive impact on their immune system, especially if they’re still drinking alcohol. This is because alcohol nourishes bacteria so that it can grow, which will further destroy a person’s gut health. There are a lot of aspects of life that gut health can impact (sleep, digestion, heart health, brain health, mood). Alcohol consumption, especially excessively over a long period, disrupts gut health.

What is Intestinal Permeability?

Intestinal walls protect the bloodstream in the body, which allows an individual to absorb the nutrients they need. This happens in the gastrointestinal tract and keeps harmful substances from being absorbed. What’s worse about inflammation from alcohol is that it causes joint inflammation. When it comes to alcoholic inflammation no part of the body is off-limits. Alcohol heavily influences conditions like grout, an extremely painful form of arthritis.

What is An Inhibited Immune Response?

When the body encounters any sort of threat to its overall health, the immune system comes in to protect it. This includes any threats that come as a result of alcohol abuse. Some studies have shown a link between the speed of immune response to harmful bacteria. It appears, according to this study, that alcohol suppresses cells that play a key role in the body’s line of defense.

Alcohol, as previously mentioned, hurts general organ function. These organs play a massive role in diminishing harmful toxins in the body. For example, the liver acts as a natural detox to certain substances. The central nervous system (CNS) also plays a part in the anti-inflammatory function. 

Drinking especially affects the central nervous system, which is responsible for hosting the brain and spinal cord, and acting as the processing hub for all their functions through our 5 senses (touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound). This includes controlling motor function and cognitive behaviors (thinking, reasoning, emotions, etc.).

When a person consumes an excessive amount of alcohol, their immune system suffers as a result. The organs it’s affecting help protect the body from other harmful substances. Because of this, the body’s defense is weakened, resulting in a poor counter-attack to certain harmful bacteria. Even mild use of alcohol can have negative effects on the CNS, which shows how dangerous binge drinking and alcoholism truly are. 

Can You Reduce Inflammation While Drinking Alcohol?

Reducing inflammation due to alcohol abuse could be either a simple task or extremely difficult depending on who you are. Substance abuse leads to dependency and depending on how much a person drinks, they could either be very dependent on alcohol or not very dependent on it.

Treatment for Alcohol and Inflammation

In short, the best way to combat inflammation from alcohol is to limit one’s alcohol consumption; the more a person drinks, the more difficult it is to combat harmful bacteria. 

All of these preventative measures are well and good, but what happens if you just need to taper down? One line of defense could be hydration. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it causes a person to urinate more, which, in turn, dehydrates you. Dehydration tends to make inflammation worse. Therefore, drinking more water than alcohol will help combat dehydration and reduce inflammation.

Need Help For Alcohol Abuse? Don’t Hesitate To Call Little Creek Today

Most often cutting down on alcohol consumption is extremely difficult. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. There are treatment options and resources available for you. If you or a loved one are having a hard time stepping away from alcohol abuse, Little Creek is here to help. Contact us today!

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