Heavy alcohol consumption can lead to a variety of serious side effects. The reason behind many alcohol-related mental and physical health problems is inflammation. Chronic alcohol-induced inflammation can damage healthy cells, tissues, and organs.

When a person consumes alcohol regularly, the entire body can suffer from inflammation, including the liver, joints, gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and even the brain. By battling alcohol abuse, a person can significantly reduce inflammation and improve their mental and physical health.

Alcohol and inflammation go hand and hand. Understanding the connection can help avoid severe consequences.

How Does Alcohol Cause Inflammation?

Alcohol is a toxin. When it enters the body, all systems try to process it. The body does its best to remove alcohol by using the available resources. 

However, when alcohol continues entering the body regularly, traditional measures don’t work. Toxins start damaging tissues, and inflammation begins. Even moderate alcohol consumption can contribute to inflammation in the body. 

When tissues sustain damage, the injured cells release specific chemicals that tell the blood vessels to leak fluids and cause swelling. This allows the body to prevent the invader from causing further damage.  

While the body’s resources are substantial, it can only fight a small number of toxins effectively, especially when they continue damaging its cells daily. Inflammation remains in the system for a long time, causing several health problems.

Types of Alcohol-Induced Inflammation

Heavy use of alcohol can induce two types of inflammation. Both of them can be dangerous to a person’s health.

• Acute inflammation – inflammation that occurs immediately when the toxin enters the body. This inflammation leads to hangover symptoms, such as nausea, headache, dehydration, and swelling. The body can usually handle acute inflammation within several days.

• Chronic inflammation – this type of inflammation occurs when alcohol consumption continuously affects different body systems. Regular toxin intake doesn’t allow the inflammation to subside.

Chronic inflammation that often accompanies alcohol abuse stresses organs and tissues, weakens the immune system, and leads to numerous health problems. Drinking alcohol regularly can have a damaging impact on major bodily organs. 

Inflammation and Liver Disease

Alcohol abuse is the most common cause of liver disease. The reason behind the connection is the inflammation caused by regular alcohol consumption. This toxin damages liver cells and induces inflammation.

The final stage of alcohol-related liver disease is cirrhosis. It’s associated with chronic inflammation. Currently, there isn’t any cure for this inflammation. That’s why the treatment is only symptomatic.

Stopping alcohol abuse at any stage of alcohol-related liver disease can increase patients’ quality of life. By eliminating the source of continuous inflammation, it may be possible to improve the condition.

Alcohol and Joint Inflammation

People who already have joint problems can quickly feel the negative impact of alcohol-induced inflammation. Besides creating a dehydration effect and reducing lubrication between the joints, alcohol can contribute to persistent inflammation and pain. A person’s alcohol intake can harm the function and health of a person’s joints. 

Alcohol contains purines that contribute to the production of excess uric acid in the body. This acid causes painful inflammation and such conditions as osteoarthritis and gout (a painful form of inflammatory arthritis). Some studies show that alcohol abuse can double the risk of developing gout.

Alcohol and Inflammation in the Gut

Large amounts of alcohol can overwhelm the GI tract. They promote intestinal inflammation, which leads to alcohol-induced organ damage. Alcohol affects the gut in several different ways, including:

• Acid production – alcohol reduces the gut’s ability to destroy harmful bacteria. The growth of this bacteria can damage the stomach, intestines, and other organs.

• Mucous lining – heavy drinking can damage the mucous lining of the stomach. This can induce inflammation and cause lesions.

Since alcohol allows bacteria to multiply in the gut and creates a pathway for its byproducts, it triggers an inflammatory response. The intestine’s immune system starts releasing special proteins called cytokines that help the body deal with inflammation.

Excessive cytokines can enter the liver and cause additional inflammation. If cytokines go into the bloodstream, they can affect the central nervous system and cause neuroinflammation (inflammatory response in the brain and spinal cord).

Alcohol-Induced Inflammation and Brain Damage

Long-term alcohol abuse can lead to the inflammation of brain tissues. While more research needs to be done, studies on mice demonstrated that excessive alcohol consumption can cause brain damage through inflammation.

Additionally, alcohol-induced liver dysfunction could be a risk factor for the development of inflammatory responses in the brain even before a person faces liver cirrhosis.

The faster a person can stop abusing alcohol, the more likely the brain and other organs will recover from chronic inflammation’s consequences.

Alcohol-Related Inflammation and Mental Health

When alcohol induces inflammation in the body, it produces cytokines. Studies link inflammatory cytokine release with mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and insomnia.

While mental health disorders and alcohol abuse are already co-occurring conditions, inflammation can worsen the consequences of both.

If someone who abuses alcohol chooses to quit, they require dual diagnosis treatment that takes care of their alcohol use disorder and the accompanying mental health issues.

Inflammation and Heart Damage

Alcohol-induced inflammation can also lead to heart damage. A recent study of heavy drinkers demonstrated that 69.2% of participants had higher markers for inflammation.

Researchers connected higher-than-normal inflammation in people with alcohol abuse disorder to heart tissue damage and cardiovascular disease.

How to Prevent Alcohol-Induced Inflammation

The key to preventing alcohol-induced inflammation is removing alcohol from a person’s life. Long-term alcohol abuse can cause a variety of physical and mental health problems. With the right approach to alcohol detoxification and rehabilitation, all of them can be managed.

If the person has been using alcohol for a long time, they are highly likely to develop inflammation. While it’s impossible to prevent it at this stage, comprehensive treatment can reduce adverse effects.

Choosing a suitable detox and rehab facility makes it possible to start reversing the adverse effects of alcohol and inflammation. At New Method Wellness, we implement various treatments to help people with alcohol abuse disorder become healthy again.

For more information, please contact us at any convenient time.