COVID-19: How Alcohol Consumption Affects Recovery


A huge spike in alcohol sales during the coronavirus pandemic has experts worried. It’s important to know how alcohol affects your body… specifically your immunity to illnesses, including COVID-19.

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Alcohol sales surged by as much as 55% towards the end of March. Here’s what you should know before you consume it.

Alcohol and COVID-19

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the consumption of alcohol can increase your risk of complications if you contract COVID-19. While some believe alcohol is a great way to combat boredom during the lockdown, it can also lower the ability to fight off infections.

A statement from WHO reads: “Alcohol consumption is associated with a range of communicable and noncommunicable diseases and mental health disorders, which can make a person more vulnerable to COVID-19. In particular, alcohol compromises the body’s immune system and increases the risk of adverse health outcomes.”

They have warned at-risk adults to refrain from drinking, and for all adults to cut back on alcohol consumption during the coronavirus pandemic. Although there is not a lot of data to support these recommendations in relation to COVID-19, there is plenty of past data related to respiratory illnesses.

Studies have shown that alcohol consumption can worsen respiratory illnesses. Alcohol is known to impair the cells responsible for the immune function, which can play a big role in how quickly you recover from any virus.

Alcohol and Your Lungs

Consuming alcohol can damage the fine hairs which clear pathogens out of your airway. According to Dr. Alex Mroszczyk-McDonald, “If the cells lining a person’s airway are damaged from alcohol, then viral particles, such as COVID-19, more easily gain access, causing immune cells, which fight off infection, to not work as well, leading to increased overall risks of more severe diseases as well as complications.”

Alcohol can also cause gut inflammation, which can kill the microorganisms living in the intestines. These microorganisms are essential to the health of your immune system. If your body is unable to clear a pathogen, you are at risk for more severe illness and possibly life-threatening complications.

Alcohol consumption is linked to severe lung diseases, including adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), as well as other pulmonary diseases. Although data is limited in relation to COVID-19, health experts believe that alcohol consumption may play a similar role in a person that contracts the virus.

Until the virus is fully contained, limiting your alcohol intake is recommended by health officials. If you are in a high-risk category, you should avoid alcohol altogether. Keeping your immune system healthy could make all the difference.