Alcohol and Chronic Bronchitis
Research Inconclusive Regarding Alcohol and Chronic Bronchitis
Chronic Bronchitis is most commonly caused by smoking cigarettes. Many who suffer from chronic bronchitis have asked the question, “Can I drink alcohol after being diagnosed?” Some research has been done on the subject, but it has been difficult to come to a solid conclusion as to whether or not alcohol is harmful for a person suffering from lung disease. “This is a new area of interest, but so far the studies we have aren’t consistent,” says Bohdan Pichurko, MD, a pulmonary specialist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. One thing that all researchers can agree on, however, is that prolonged heavy drinking is detrimental to one’s health, with or without lung disease.
In an article published by Allina Health, a non-profit dedicated to disease prevention, it is recommended that anyone with chronic bronchitis abstain from drinking alcohol completely. Drinking alcohol lessens the urge to cough or sneeze, which results in more liquids getting built up in your lungs. Also, drinking alcohol causes a person to become more dehydrated, which results in the mucus in their lungs becoming thicker and therefore harder to cough up. So it’s not drinking itself that’s the problem, really, it’s the side effects for someone suffering from chronic bronchitis.
According to an article in About Health, chronic drinking alone does not directly result in lung damage, rather, drinking coupled with oxidative stress causes damage to a person’s lungs. Oxidative stress occurs when a person is exposed to cigarette smoke, air pollution or dangerous chemicals. Drinking alcohol reduces your lungs’ capacity to handle these airway irritants, which is what makes drinking and smoking together so dangerous. An article published by Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health reveals that heavy drinking over a long period of time can predispose someone to develop acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). ARDS is a deadly lung disease that typically stems from a sickness or bodily trauma. Heavy drinkers are at a greater risk for developing ARDS.
Increased Risk of ARDS
Drinking alcohol increases a person’s risk for ARDS because it greatly reduces the amount of the antioxidant glutathione in a person’s lungs. According to an article by Emory University, the less glutathione a person has in their lungs, the more difficult it is for the body to transfer oxygen from the lungs to the bloodstream. This puts a person at risk for ARDS. ARDS is a serious disease that can result in death. In the article, David Guidot, director of the Emory Alcohol and Lung Biology Center at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) notes that more alcoholics actually die from lung damage over liver damage.
When suffering from a disease like chronic bronchitis, it is extremely important to be aware of the risk factors. Avoiding alcohol is probably a good idea, however, if you choose to drink, certainly do so in moderation for better health.