Inflammation can be caused by excessive alcohol consumption. Heavy consumption adds to inflammation that affects your entire system by interfering with your body’s natural defenses against the rush of gut microbes and their products.
Chronic alcohol use harms the liver’s ability to detoxify bacterial products and the brain’s ability to regulate inflammation. Plus, alcohol can damage the liver along with the central nervous system, which also plays a part in inflammation. So basically, alcohol not only causes inflammation but also can harm your body’s ability to regulate inflammation.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is Inflammation?
- 2 How is Inflammation Caused?
- 3 What Health Problems are Caused by Alcohol Inflammation?
- 4 Tips to Reduce Alcohol-Related Inflammation
- 5 The 5 Worst Drinking Habits for Inflammation
- 6 What is Alcohol Bloating?
- 7 Do You Have a Drinking Problem?
- 8 Treatment Options for AUD
- 9 Miracles at Miracles Recovery Center
- 10 FAQ
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is a process. In this process, your white blood cells and the things they make protect you from infection from outside invaders such as:
Nevertheless, in some diseases such as arthritis, your immune system, the body’s defense system, triggers inflammation even when there are no outside invaders to fight off. These are called autoimmune diseases.
2 Types of Inflammation
- Acute (short-lived): Acute inflammation usually goes away within hours or days.
- Chronic (long-lasting): Even after the first trigger is gone, chronic inflammation may last months or years. Conditions associated with chronic inflammation include:
- Heart disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
Symptoms of Inflammation
- Joint pain
- Stiffness in joints
- A joint not working as well as it should
- A swollen joint that may be warm to the touch
Generally, there will only be a few of these symptoms at one time. Inflammation might also cause flu-like symptoms such as:
- Appetite loss
- Muscle stiffness
How is Inflammation Caused?
Inflammation is caused by chemicals from your body’s white blood cells entering your blood or tissues to protect your body from invaders. This increases the flow of blood to the area of injury or infection. Some of those chemicals cause fluid to leak into your tissues, which causes swelling. This is a protective process that can trigger nerves and cause pain.
The elevated numbers of white blood cells and the things they make inside your joints cause:
- Swelling of the lining of the joint
- Loss of cartilage (the cushions at the ends of the bones) over time.
Can Inflammation Affect Internal Organs?
As part of an autoimmune disorder, inflammation can affect your internal organs. The symptoms depend on which organs are being affected:
- Heart inflammation (myocarditis) can cause shortness of breath or a buildup of fluid.
- Inflammation of the small tubes that bring air to your lungs may cause shortness of breath.
- Inflammation in your kidneys (nephritis) may cause high blood pressure or kidney failure.
There might not be any pain with an inflammatory disease because many organs don’t have a lot of nerves that are sensitive to pain.
What Health Problems are Caused by Alcohol Inflammation?
Alcohol inflammation can bring on many health conditions. Besides regular weight gain, it can cause:
- Fatty liver disease: This is a buildup of fats in the liver. People may have fatty liver disease without it being alcohol-induced, but it is common with continued alcohol abuse.
- Worsened arthritis: This happens especially if you suffer from gout which is painful inflammatory arthritis.
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): Drinking alcohol can trigger a flare-up of IBD because of its pro-oxidant effects and damage to gut functioning.
- Chronic inflammation: It is frequently linked to alcohol-related health problems. When your body metabolizes alcohol in the gastrointestinal tract, it disturbs tissue maintenance, causing chronic inflammation in the intestines.
- Joint inflammation: Inflammation of the joints is known as arthritis. But, surprisingly, alcohol may have some anti-inflammatory benefits. This is because the consumption of alcohol reduces certain biomarkers (signature molecules) of inflammation. This means that moderate (CDC recommendations) alcohol consumption can reduce your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
Tips to Reduce Alcohol-Related Inflammation
Alcohol-related inflammation can cause health complications. They may be mild or severe depending on how much alcohol you consume and for how long. Fortunately, there are some ways to reduce alcohol-related inflammation.
- Stop drinking alcohol: This is the best way but cutting down and only drinking in moderation may help. If you can’t stop drinking or cut down you may have an alcohol use disorder (AUD). Get professional help. Quitting on your own can be dangerous.
- Stay hydrated: Dehydration can aggravate inflammation. Drink water while and after you drink alcohol.
- Consult a healthcare provider if you are still having health complications as a result of alcohol-related inflammation.
The 5 Worst Drinking Habits for Inflammation
- Drinking more than 2 alcoholic beverages per day. The CDC recommends that women may have one drink per day while men can have two.
- Drinking alcohol daily. Technically, while the CDC says 1 for women and 2 for men is okay, it’s not a good wellness habit. You’re likely to have ongoing inflammation internally and externally, with a red puffy face.
- Combining alcohol with a poor diet. Combining non-nutritious foods with alcohol is a major contributor to inflammation. Combine moderate alcohol consumption with a diet that is rich in anti-inflammatory foods like:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Olive oil
- Nuts and seeds
- Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids
- Drinking alcohol with added sugar. It’s common to mix liquor with mixers like soda, juices, etc. But this increases the sugar content because alcohol is already sugar. This helps create inflammation.
- Drinking alcohol but not exercising. You can counteract some of the inflammatory effects of alcohol by just doing 20 minutes of exercise
What is Alcohol Bloating?
If you’ve ever noticed puffiness in your face and body after a long night of drinking alcohol, then you know that alcohol and swelling frequently go together. Most people know the term “beer belly,” the stubborn fat that tends to accumulate around your middle.
Aside from weight gain, alcohol can also lead to irritation of your gastrointestinal tract, which can also cause bloating. Alcohol is an inflammatory substance, which means it tends to cause swelling in the body. Alcohol inflammation can be made much worse by the things that are often mixed with alcohol, like sugary and carbonated liquids. This results in:
- Stomach discomfort
After that night of drinking, you might have also noticed bloating in your face. This may also be accompanied by redness. That happens because alcohol dehydrates the body. And when the body is dehydrated, skin and vital organs try to retain as much water as possible, causing puffiness in the face and other places.
Is It Preventable?
If you are consuming alcohol, you should drink water to quickly get rid of the bloating in your face and stomach. The fact is, drinking water before, during, and after drinking alcohol can help prevent the inflammatory effects of alcohol on your body. More ways to prevent bloating are:
- Eat and drink slower: This can reduce the amount of air you might swallow. Swallowing air can increase bloating.
- Stay away from carbonated drinks and beer: These release carbon dioxide gas into the body, which increases bloating.
- Avoid gum or hard candy: These also make you suck in more air than normal.
- Quit smoking because it causes you to inhale and swallow air.
- If you wear dentures, make sure they fit well. Poorly fitting dentures can make you swallow excess air.
- Take care of any heartburn problems: Heartburn may increase bloating.
- Getting exercise after eating or drinking can help reduce bloating.
- Reduce or remove gas-causing food from your diet including:
- Fatty food
- Artificial sugar
- Whole grain food
- Carbonated drinks
- Beans and peas
- Try an over-the-counter gas remedy.
- Try probiotics and digestive enzymes that support healthy gut bacteria.
Do You Have a Drinking Problem?
Are you worried about having a drinking problem? If you are, you aren’t alone. In fact, about 18 million adults in the U.S. struggle with AUD. AUD refers to drinking that causes harm or distress. The symptoms vary depending on the severity. Still, symptoms of AUD generally include, but aren’t limited to:
- Alcohol cravings
- Frequently drinking alone
- Drinking alcohol as a way to cope
- Needing to drink increasing amounts of alcohol to achieve the same effect
- Drinking despite the mental, emotional, physical, and financial consequences
- Disrupting day-to-day activities for alcohol use
- Allowing alcohol to interfere with professional and personal relationships
- Acquiring alcohol-related medical conditions
- Developing a weakened immune system
Alcohol withdrawal can occur when heavy and prolonged alcohol use is suddenly stopped or substantially reduced. It can happen in a few hours or within a few days. Symptoms include:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Problems sleeping
- Hand tremors
- Mood swings
- Loss of consciousness
Treatment Options for AUD
The first step of a treatment program is detoxification. Then, behavioral therapy and other services are introduced. These programs typically last 30, 60, or 90 days, sometimes longer.
Most programs help set up your aftercare once you complete the other portions of your treatment. There are many options available for alcohol use disorder including:
In a detoxification center, you allow your body to eliminate the alcohol toxins. Alcohol detox and withdrawal can be dangerous without supervision so a medically supervised program is important to get you prepared to go into treatment.
This takes place at a licensed residential treatment center. This type of program provides 24/7 structured, comprehensive care. You’ll live in a secure substance-free facility, fully monitored by medical professionals. This is considered the highest level of care.
Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)
Though technically an outpatient program PHPs provide similar services and are similar to residential programs, except that you go home in the evening. Seven full days a week are spent at the treatment facility, engaging in behavioral therapy, support groups, and other customized therapies. Some facilities provide food and transportation service. PHPs generally accept new patients as well as individuals who have completed an inpatient program.
Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) /Outpatient Program (OP)
Outpatient programs are typically less intensive than residential and PHP. Because they require fewer days and hours per week, it is easier to organize treatment around your schedule. In an IOP, you will attend treatment sessions several days a week for 3 or 4 hours per day. The goal is to provide education, therapy, and support in a flexible environment. IOPs are good for people who have a supportive family to go home to, and school or work obligations that can’t be worked around.
Regular outpatient programs (OPs) are the lowest level of care and therefore require fewer hours per week for treatment sessions. OPs are good for people who have completed a higher level of care and would like to continue their treatment. They are often part of an aftercare program.
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
Medications are sometimes needed in the treatment of alcohol addiction. Some reduce the side effects of withdrawal and others help reduce cravings and normalize body functions. The most common medications for AUD are:
- Antabuse (disulfiram)
- Campral (acamprosate)
- Vivitrol (naltrexone)
When you combine MAT with evidence-based therapies, you increase your chance of recovery and preventing relapse. The most effective therapies for AUD include:
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
- Individual Therapy
- Group Therapy
- Family Therapy
Miracles at Miracles Recovery Center
If you or a loved one are suffering from AUD, you may feel like it will take a miracle to end the torment. You don’t need a miracle, but you do need professional help. Miracles Recovery Center in Port St. Lucie, FL. can provide you with the comprehensive treatment and evidence-based therapies that you need. In addition, our staff is professional and well experienced in the treatment of addictions.
If you live in the Port St. Lucie area, you know the healing qualities of the ocean. For those of you that don’t, many people find it more beneficial to get away from your old surroundings to start fresh on your recovery journey. Contact us today. We are happy to answer any questions.
Does alcohol cause inflammation?
Yes, alcohol can indeed cause inflammation in the body. While moderate alcohol consumption may have some health benefits for certain individuals, heavy or chronic alcohol use can lead to various forms of inflammation.
Here are some ways alcohol can cause inflammation:
- Liver Inflammation (Alcoholic Hepatitis): Alcohol is metabolized in the liver, and excessive alcohol consumption can lead to inflammation and damage to liver cells. This can result in alcoholic hepatitis, which is an inflammation of the liver. If alcohol use continues, it can lead to more severe conditions such as cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, and liver failure.
- Gut and Digestive System: Alcohol can disrupt the balance of bacteria (microbiota) in the gut, leading to inflammation of the gut lining, increased intestinal permeability (“leaky gut”), and potentially, systemic inflammation as endotoxins enter the bloodstream. Chronic inflammation in the digestive system can lead to conditions like gastritis and pancreatitis.
- Brain: Long-term alcohol abuse can cause neuroinflammation, which can contribute to the cognitive deficits and mood disorders often seen in chronic heavy drinkers.
- Immune System Dysfunction: Alcohol can impact the immune system, causing it to produce a heightened inflammatory response, which can lead to increased susceptibility to infections and tissue damage.
- Heart Disease: Chronic heavy drinking can cause inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis), and contribute to the development of heart disease.
- Systemic Inflammation: Alcohol can trigger systemic inflammation through various pathways, leading to an overall increase in inflammation in the body. This can potentially contribute to a variety of health problems, including cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.
It’s worth noting that individual responses to alcohol can vary, and factors such as genetic predisposition, lifestyle, and overall health status can influence the extent to which alcohol consumption leads to inflammation and related health issues. Always consult with healthcare professionals for advice on alcohol consumption and its potential health effects.
How long does inflammation from alcohol last?
The length of time that inflammation from alcohol lasts can vary widely and depends on several factors. These factors include the amount of alcohol consumed, the frequency of consumption, the individual’s overall health, genetic factors, and whether or not there are other underlying health conditions present.
If a person engages in heavy drinking on a single occasion (sometimes referred to as “binge drinking”), this might trigger an acute inflammatory response. The effects of this could potentially last for a few hours to a few days as the body processes the alcohol and recovers. However, repeated episodes of heavy drinking can lead to chronic inflammation, which could potentially last as long as the drinking behavior continues, and possibly beyond.
Chronic inflammation due to long-term heavy drinking can lead to permanent damage and disease in the organs affected, such as the liver (in conditions like alcoholic hepatitis or cirrhosis), pancreas (pancreatitis), and brain. In these cases, even if the inflammation subsides after a person stops drinking, the damage may be irreversible and the associated health effects could persist.
That said, it’s important to note that reducing alcohol intake or abstaining from alcohol can often help to reduce alcohol-induced inflammation and may help to prevent further damage. This should always be done under the supervision of a healthcare provider, especially for heavy drinkers, as abrupt cessation can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms.
Ultimately, the exact timeline for inflammation from alcohol will depend on individual factors, and anyone concerned about alcohol-related inflammation should consult with a healthcare provider for evaluation and guidance.
Does vodka cause inflammation?
Yes, vodka, like any other type of alcohol, can cause inflammation if consumed in large quantities or over a long period of time. Despite being sometimes marketed as a “cleaner” or “purer” form of alcohol due to its high degree of distillation, vodka can still contribute to inflammation and other health issues associated with alcohol consumption.
When you consume alcohol, your body recognizes it as a toxin and works to metabolize and remove it. This process primarily occurs in the liver and involves several steps that can create byproducts, such as acetaldehyde, which can lead to inflammation. Chronic or excessive alcohol consumption can lead to persistent inflammation in the liver and potentially other parts of the body, which can contribute to a variety of health problems, including liver disease, cardiovascular disease, and neurological problems.
Moreover, alcohol can disrupt the balance of bacteria in your gut, leading to an increased permeability of the gut lining (sometimes referred to as “leaky gut”), which can allow bacterial toxins to enter the bloodstream and cause systemic inflammation.
While moderate alcohol consumption may be associated with certain health benefits in some individuals, it’s important to note that these potential benefits must be balanced against the potential risks, including inflammation and other alcohol-related health problems. It’s also important to remember that the threshold for what constitutes “moderate” or “heavy” drinking can vary widely from person to person, and what is moderate or safe for one person might not be for another.
If you have any concerns about alcohol consumption and inflammation, it’s always a good idea to discuss them with a healthcare provider. They can provide advice based on your personal health history and current situation.