Alcohol consumption is associated with a range of communicable and non-communicable diseases and mental health disorders, which can make a person more vulnerable to COVID-19 said Dr Ashwin Karuppan, Consultant – Internal Medicine, Gleneagles Global Health City, Chennai. Consumption of alcohol harms the body’s immune system and increases the risk of adverse health outcomes. When the world is reeling under the grip of Coronavirus affecting millions, the immunity of individuals plays a vital role in the host defence mechanism. Coronavirus has found to affect people who have low immunity and co-morbid conditions making them gravely sick, added Dr Ashwin.
Consuming any alcohol poses health risks, but consuming high-strength ethyl alcohol (ethanol), particularly if it has been adulterated with methanol, can result in severe health consequences. People have learned to live without alcohol in the last few weeks. The usual withdrawal symptoms which occur in the first 2-3 weeks vanish with time and people have adopted to alcohol-free healthy lifestyle approaches by force. In the current scenario, there is no effective medication and vaccines to treat and prevent COVID-19, which leaves us with only one option that is the prevention of infection.
Social Distancing has been the cornerstone for the prevention of COVID-19 infections. India has proved that social distancing can greatly reduce the transmission and spread of the virus in the society. Looking at stage 3 level of infection called community transmission, every citizen of the country has the collective responsibility of protecting himself and others. As the shutters open for alcohol stores, the risk of infection transmissions among tipplers and their families has increased. The susceptible population of the elderly and children is at risk to contract the infection. People who consume alcohol are advised to keep an adequate distance from the elderly and children. Binge drinking after a lockdown can cause acute alcoholic intoxication leaving one seriously ill.
There is a common myth that drinking alcohol provides immunity against COVID-19; in fact, it can increase the chance of infection and make one sick. During the time of economic recession, it’s advisable to refrain from drinking or at least drink moderately/responsibly and not cause a financial burden on families. People who have stopped drinking have to continue to be determined and motivated to practice abstinence. Adopt social distancing and personal hygiene such as hand washing, covering your mouth and nose while coughing and sneezing. It is always advisable to wear a mask in public places. Avoiding alcohol can help oneself and everyone in the family to live in harmony and at peace. Refraining from consuming liquor is not the end but a new beginning. Let us together build a healthy future for ourselves, our loved ones, and those around us.
Dr Ashwin Karuppan,
Consultant – Internal Medicine
Gleneagles Global Health City