Covid and Alcohol a Strange Relationship

covid and alcohol glass

Covid and Alcohol

 As we learn to live with coronavirus, as many suspected we would have to, the relationship between covid and alcohol is ever evolving. During the Covid pandemic, there was significant concern about drinking alcohol. This went for drinking while you had covid-19 and drinking because of the lockdown. There is no denying isolation, and depression rates led many people to drink too much.

We are emerging from this pandemic. Vaccines have given us back our freedom and, for the most part, health. Although Covid is spreading, wider variants mean most cases are milder, and health services can cope better with cases. 

Covid has profoundly influenced so many parts of our lives, and it seems that drinking is one of them. 

Part of the recovery process from the pandemic is a change in how we view our lives—only natural after experiencing so much suffering and fear. 

There is a huge emphasis on rewriting your story and focusing on happiness after such a serious world event. If cutting down on or stopping alcohol is how you see your future, then there is no time like the present.

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Can you Drink Alcohol if you Have Covid?

For many people drinking is a regular part of their lives. Some of us even drink every day and may consider alcohol a remedy for similar illnesses such as colds. Milder cold-like symptoms lead many to ask if they can drink alcohol with Covid. 

  • You should not go out drinking when you have Covid-19. You risk spreading the infection, and it is better to be safe at home if your symptoms worsen. 
  • Contrary to urban myths about alcohol killing Covid and other viruses and bacteria, drinking makes it harder for your body to overcome illnesses. Alcohol does not kill Covid. Nothing could be further from the truth. 
  • Drinking alcohol makes many of the symptoms of coronavirus worse. Dehydration, fatigue and fever are all made worse by consuming alcohol.
  • Drinking alcohol with Covid increases the chances of serious complications such as breathing issues, pneumonia, and long-term post-viral fatigue.

The average length of Covid infection is 7-14 days. Considering the short length of the infection, it is worth stopping drinking to recover effectively. If you struggle to stop drinking when your health is on the line, you may have alcohol dependence. 

Post-Covid Alcohol Intolerance

As the number of people reporting long-term issues due to covid infection continues to rise, alcohol intolerance has joined the list of issues for long-haulers. But how accurate is this description?

True alcohol intolerance is caused by genetics or medical issues such as liver disease. There is no evidence that long or medium covid leads to alcohol intolerance or allergies. 

What is common, however, is people with long covid reporting they are unable to drink as much or often without severe side effects. The suspected cause is post-viral fatigue, a condition that long predated covid but has been brought into the spotlight due to its severity after some covid infections. 

Symptoms of post-viral fatigue include:

  • Exhaustion, even with sufficient rest
  • Trouble concentrating and forgetfulness
  • Pain in muscles, head and throat
  • Periodic breathlessness when exercising

The reasons why it happens are uncertain. Many doctors believe it is caused by tissue inflammation when a virus remains in your body long beyond active infection. Given how excessive alcohol consumption increases inflammation, even contributing to gout and arthritis, the association with long covid makes sense. 

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Alcohol and Covid Vaccine

Alcohol is a known immunosuppressant, but it is worth noting that it is only in large quantities. People who drink too often may become ill when they stop. This isn’t just withdrawal but also the result of immune suppression.

Moderation is key to avoiding this issue. One of many reasons for the current alcohol guidelines from the NHS is studies show more than 14 units a week causes a general suppression of immunity in adults. 

Your reaction to a vaccine is key to its ability to protect you against the real disease. The immune response builds up the antibodies that fight future infection.

If you suppress this response, then you will get fewer antibodies as a result. Therefore, drinking heavily when you get the covid vaccine is not recommended.

Covid, Alcohol and Mental Health

With the lockdown came a host of problems, both physical and mental. An unnatural state for most people, being locked at home drove many to start drinking or drinking more and more. 

The rise in mental health issues because of the lockdown and the climate of fear caused by the coronavirus contributed as well. 

Anxiety and depression skyrocketed. These are two mental health problems commonly made worse by alcohol or drug use. During the year of lockdown, there was a 58.6% increase in high-risk drinking in the UK. 

Whether you attribute this increase to boredom, anxiety, or changes in accountability for our drinking, there is little room for doubt that alcohol is a depressant. Continuing to drink when your mental health suffers will only worsen the situation.

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