Guide on Alcoholic Lung Disease | Banyan Treatment Center

What You Should Know About Alcoholic Lung Disease

What You Should Know About Alcoholic Lung Disease
 

Alcohol abuse is a serious problem that can have a toxic effect on various organs of the body, including the lungs. Although chronic alcohol use and heavy drinking are commonly linked to liver disease, alcohol can damage your lungs as well, causing a variety of conditions like alcoholic pneumonia, acute lung injury, and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Long-term alcohol abuse can cause lung damage to worsen over time, and in severe cases, this damage can be fatal. An effective way of preventing alcoholic lung disease is to undergo professional alcoholism treatment.


How Does Alcohol Affect the Lungs?


Much attention regarding the effects of alcohol on the body is normally focused on the liver due to devastating and common repercussions of alcohol abuse, such as alcoholic liver disease and cirrhosis. However, as research on alcohol’s impact on all organs of the body expands, alcohol lung damage has risen to the surface.


FAlcohol-related lung damage is most common among people who are heavy drinkers or have abused alcohol for an extended amount of time. Alcohol and respiratory depression are related because alcohol depresses the central nervous system, which is linked to the respiratory system and functions like breathing. When consumed in large quantities, alcohol can have an extreme, depressing effect on breathing, which can lead to shortness of breath.


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Long-term alcohol abuse and heavy drinking also alter the airways in the lungs over time, which can affect the breathing process, inhibit saliva production, and increase the risk for bacteria in the mouth, all of which can lead to lung disease and infection. Alcohol abuse also impacts the immune system, decreasing the body's ability to fight off infection and increasing the risk of bacteria getting into the trachea (windpipe) and lungs.


The intoxicating effects of alcohol can also cause lung inflammation and impair a person’s gag and cough reflexes, which also increases the risk of pneumonia. Individuals with underlying lung conditions or who have a history of lung problems are more likely to experience alcoholic lung disease if they drink heavily or abuse alcohol.


Common alcoholic lung diseases include:


  • Alcoholic pneumonia: Pneumonia is an infection in the lungs that is caused by the spread of bacteria or viruses. As one of the leading causes of death from infection in the U.S., it’s not surprising that it’s also caused by a leading disease in the U.S.: alcoholism. Alcohol impacts the immune system and various functions like removing mucus from the lungs or the processing of bacteria in the body, which can increase the risk and spread of pneumonia-causing bacteria and viruses.
  • Acute lung injury: Heavy alcohol consumption is also shown to increase the risk of acute lung injury. Alcohol use can deplete antioxidant glutathione in the body, which plays a role in processing toxins and reducing inflammation. Low levels of glutathione caused by alcohol use can make the lungs more sensitive and vulnerable to injury after being exposed to bacteria.
  • Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV): RSV is a virus that alcohol can cause or aggravate, resulting in pneumonia in anyone with a weak immune system.
  • Tuberculosis (TB): TB is an infection of the lungs that are caused by a specific bacteria. People with TB who have weak immune systems (a symptom aggravated by alcohol) can die from an infection.
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS): ARDS is a severe type of lung injury that’s deadly in many cases. The most common causes of ARDS are a build-up of fluid in the lungs, severe pneumonia, or another major injury. The average mortality rate of ARDS is between 30% and 50%, but the risk may be higher among heavy drinkers.
  • Asthma: This is a condition in which your airways narrow and swell and produce extra mucus, which can make breathing difficult. Considering that alcohol can impair immune function and inhibit the body from performing functions like removing mucus from the airways, symptoms of asthma may worsen from alcohol use.
  • Sepsis: Sepsis refers to the body’s extreme reaction to an infection. Sepsis can occur when a preexisting infection triggers a chain reaction throughout the body, starting in the lungs and working its way through the urinary tract, skin, or gastrointestinal tract. Research shows that people with a history of alcohol abuse are more likely to develop lung-related sepsis and other conditions like ARDS.1

  • The effects of alcohol on your lungs can range from mild difficulties breathing to life-threatening infections like tuberculosis. In addition to alcoholic lung disease, there are various other consequences of long-term alcohol abuse, both physical and psychological. However, because alcohol is addictive, many people who have grown dependent on drinking require the help of professional drug addiction treatment centers to get sober. If you’re in this situation, Banyan Treatment Center can help.


    The effects of alcohol on your lungs can range from mild difficulties breathing to life-threatening infections like tuberculosis. In addition to alcoholic lung disease, there are various other consequences of long-term alcohol abuse, both physical and psychological. However, because alcohol is addictive, many people who have grown dependent on drinking require the help of professional drug addiction treatment centers to get sober. If you’re in this situation, Banyan Treatment Center can help.


    Help for Alcohol Addiction & Abuse


    Our Banyan rehab locations are spread out across the country to help people with drug and alcohol use disorders get sober and improve their health and lives. When it comes to alcohol abuse, lung disease is only one of the many problems that can occur. Fortunately, no matter how deeply involved you are in substance abuse, our specialists can help.


    Call Banyan Treatment Center today at 888-280-4763 to find out more about our nationwide detox programs and substance abuse services.



Alyssa
Alyssa
Alyssa who is the National Director of Digital Marketing, joined the Banyan team in 2016, bringing her five-plus years of experience. She has produced a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. Through strategic marketing campaign concepts, Alyssa has established Banyan as an industry leader and a national household name.