Effects of Drinking When You Have an Autoimmune Disease
The body’s defensive reaction to alcohol begins as soon as the first drink hits your tongue. While alcohol lowers our defenses and is strongly tied to relaxation in our society, it can wreak havoc on the body’s functionality. Even a person with a healthy immune system can’t escape the effects of drinking. But an individual battling an autoimmune disease will feel the impacts days, and possibly weeks, after drinking.
Alcohol & the Biome
Alcohol acts as a powerful disinfectant with the ability to significantly change the microbiome of your mouth. Like the oral microbiome, the gut is filled with bacteria that help keep the body in balance. When that microbiome comes into contact with alcohol, the balance between good and bad bacteria is thrown off. The gut, however, may take the hardest hit from the effects of drinking. Alcohol can break down the intestine’s immune system, leading to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), food allergies, and more.
Based on the detrimental effects of drinking on the body, you may assume we’re referencing a case of alcohol dependency or speaking on data from alcohol rehabilitation Arizona facilities. However, research shows even a moderate or casual amount of alcohol – one to two drinks – can heavily impact someone with an autoimmune disease.
What Is Autoimmune Disease?
An autoimmune disease causes the body to attack its own tissues just as it would a foreign body, like germs. There are a number of autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, inflammatory bowel disease, and multiple sclerosis. Alcohol consumption of any amount disrupts the gut barrier, permitting more bacteria to seep into your bloodstream. Drinking alcohol when you have an autoimmune disease can further impair the function of immune cells in the upper respiratory system, brain, lungs and other areas of the body. Essentially, the toxins in alcohol cause any autoimmune disease to become more severe.
A collection of more than 80 chronic, sometimes life-threatening, illnesses make up the family of autoimmune diseases. The National Institutes of Health estimates up to 23.5 million Americans (1), or roughly 7 percent of the population, suffer from autoimmune disease. Of those who are diagnosed with such a disease, 80 percent are women. (2)
DNA plays a large role in deciding who suffers from an autoimmune deficiency. Roughly one-third of the risk (3) of developing such a disease is hereditary. It’s also possible “that autoimmune disease occurs based on the immune system’s ability to handle stress,” according to Ana-Maria Orbai, M.D., M.H.S., a rheumatologist at the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center. (4)
Effects Of Drinking On Autoimmune Disease
The effects of alcohol on those with autoimmune disease have the potential to be much greater. One can experience an enhanced vulnerability to sickness or feeling sluggish for up to two weeks afterward. “Physicians have long observed that excessive alcohol consumption can lead not only to liver damage but also to increased illness and death from infectious diseases such as pneumonia,” according to a report (5) from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Alcohol rehabilitation Arizona has found a common result from drinking alcohol is the development of leaky gut. This syndrome is the result of a state in which the connections of the cells lining your intestines are not as tight as they should be. Unwanted substances cross into your bloodstream, enhancing autoimmune disease symptoms. In addition, autoimmune disease and alcohol feed off one another. Cortisol is a stress hormone that typically acts as an anti-inflammatory. When it is continuously produced by the brain during alcohol consumption, the body can become immune to the hormone.
Fatigue is the most common complaint of those with autoimmune disease after drinking. That fatigue, however, can play into other choices that affect the body. Science says we binge eat more frequently when we’re tired. Our bodies naturally crave sugars and carbohydrates as it desires a quick source of energy. Poor dietary decisions make way for an increase in autoimmune disease symptoms, including inflammation.
In addition, fatigue can make us less intelligent. If you’ve ever felt that it was taking you too long to make a decision or to recall information with which you’d normally be familiar, you could be suffering from decision fatigue. (6) When the brain is tired, it conserves energy by making impulse decisions.
Finally, the choices made while fatigued from alcohol consumption when you suffer from an autoimmune disease can lead to weight gain. Research shows you’re more likely to make poor food choices, skip any type of exercise, and joint pain can increase. As you become more sedentary, the weight can make autoimmune symptoms more prominent.
Alcohol Rehabilitation Arizona Facility
Understanding how to manage your alcohol rehabilitation treatment when you suffer from an autoimmune disease is a specialty of Desert Cove Recovery. Our drug treatment specialists are highly skilled in dual diagnosis, so we can guide you through any mental health challenges that have developed as a result of pain or living with an autoimmune disease. The caring staff at Desert Cove Recovery is ready to help you overcome alcohol use or dependency. We want to help give you a more enjoyable life as you continue to battle a chronic illness. Contact our team today to develop your personalized treatment plan.