Alcohol Awareness Month: Too Much Drink Can Do a Number on Your Immune SystemAlcohol can be your friend during cold and flu (and COVID-19) season. Clean hands thoroughly with soap and water, or if you only have hand sanitizer, make sure it contains at least 60% alcohol. For surfaces, a solution that has at least 70% alcohol should keep bugs at bay. But resorting to drinking the hard stuff, that’s not so great for one’s health. Never mind cases of people drinking bootleg liquor in a misguided effort to treat coronavirus. Drinking pure methanol (wood grain alcohol) won’t do a lick of good. It can lead to blindness and even death. Rubbing alcohol is no better. Small amounts can kill a child. It’s poisonous to adults, too. Even inhaling it can be deadly. That’s definitely no healing elixir. Excess alcohol consumption isn’t a friend to the immune system, either. Science says too much can make one more vulnerable to illnesses such as pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndromes, alcoholic liver disease, and some cancers. It also slows and inhibits recovery from infections and wounds. Drug abuse isn’t good for the immune system either. Long-term abuse of marijuana weakens the body’s defenses, and cocaine hinders immune cell functioning and can speed up the HIV virus. Too much alcohol also robs the body of needed vitamins. To keep your immune system functioning at its best, a few good habits will help:
- Make sure your diet has plenty of fruits and vegetables
- If you drink, do it in moderation
- Get regular exercise
- Avoid infection by washing your hands regularly and often
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