Alcohol inflammation diagram

Alcohol and Inflammation

 Inflammation and alcohol’s relationship has seen a lot of interest in recent years. It’s not just the link with covid complications either. There is increasing noise in the scientific community that it could be key in many illnesses and infections. 

Inflammation is an immune response to something the body views as a threat as a toxic substance alcohol fits this bill perfectly. The impact of this inflammatory response on the body is multiple and widespread.

Throat Inflammation and Alcohol

The first parts of your body to receive alcohol are your mouth, oral cavity and throat. The effect of exposing these to harmful chemicals such as alcohol is damage to the cells. This means how cells divide, absorb toxic chemicals and repair are all negatively affected when we drink. 

These factors can cause inflammation and lead to throat and mouth cancer. 

Much of the inflammation is caused by dehydration, as alcohol is a diuretic. This means you can wake up the next day with your throat dried out and your vocal cords struggling. 

Alcohol also affects the immune system and can make you more likely to contract viral throat infections. This can also lead to inflammation and more serious conditions. 

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Stomach and Bowel Inflammation from Alcohol

Alcoholic gastritis is inflammation or damage to the lining of your stomach. This is also caused by several other things, including stress, infections, trauma and smoking. However, alcohol is one of the most common causes, likely due to being so widespread. 

The process is not immediate but happens slowly over a long period of drinking too much too often. This slow increase in symptoms can lead to it being ignored until it becomes uncomfortable. Symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Losing your appetite
  • Burning stomach pain after eating and drinking 
  • General pain in your chest 
  • Blood in your stool 
  • Throwing up blood
  • Diarrhoea 

NAD and Inflammation

NAD (Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) is a key element in our bodies’ energy metabolism. It aids in the transfer of energy and helps reduce inflammation. This is particularly important in the kidneys and liver, which are affected by alcohol. 

There are several ways to increase NAD levels in your body, from diet to supplements. Doing this can improve your metabolism, compensating for the immune problems caused by drinking too much.

Alcohol, Inflammation and Illnesses

One of the most commonly searched questions about coronavirus is ‘can I drink with Covid?’. This may be a hopeful indicator of reducing the severity of the symptoms of the disease that brought the world to a standstill. It also suggests that many people choose to drink even though it might hamper their recovery.

If you feel like you cannot stop drinking even when you are sick, it might be time to consider stopping or cutting down.

Covid isn’t the only illness made worse by drinking. Studies show that problems in the heart, liver, kidney, ulcers, cancer and even broken bones can be made much worse by the inflammation from drinking. 

One of the worst conditions to drink with is chronic inflammation which drinking-related medical conditions can also cause. 

Acute vs Chronic Inflammation

Binge drinking is the most common cause of acute alcohol-related inflammation. This results in hangover symptoms such as dehydration, headaches and an upset stomach. It can also mean swelling and puffiness, as well as red skin. 

You can often get this kind of inflammation even if you don’t drink. If you stop drinking, it should stop after a few days. 

Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, can happen when you drink too much over an extended period, months or even years. Inflammation is an issue that only resolves by removing the cause and recovering slowly. 

If you continue drinking, this means the inflammation will only get worse. Your body will change, producing more proteins that cause inflammation to spread throughout the body. This leads to a consistently inflamed system. 

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What to do About Alcohol Inflammation

Taking away the cause of the inflammation is the first step which means stopping or at least severely cutting down on alcohol. 

It will take time to ease the effects of drinking especially chronic inflammation. Rest is vital to recovery.

You can improve your recovery by staying hydrated, eating well and taking alcohol detox supplements.