Excessive drinking during coronavirus lockdowns could weaken immune system, experts say

Don’t mix drinking and coronavirus.

As the coronavirus outbreak continues to impact daily life across the nation, several states have seen a spike in alcohol sales. While some experts have speculated that this may be due to people trying to stock up before stay-at-home orders are issued, it still appears that many are handling social distancing with a drink in their hand.

Of course, this begs the question, if everyone is staying home to stay healthy amid a viral outbreak, is drinking hindering that effort?

Dr. Shannon Sovndal, an ER doctor and author of "Fragile," spoke with Fox News and explained the effect alcohol has on the body.

"People drink because it mellows them," he said. "Well, alcohol has a similar effect on the immune system, making it slow and lethargic." He also explained how light drinking (having one drink a day) will likely only have a minimal effect, but heavier drinking can "dampen" all of your body's systems, including the immune system.

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Fox News previously reported on a study that detailed the immediate impact getting drunk can have on the immune system. Based on the results, the immune system may see a brief boost about 20 minutes after “peak intoxication.”

About 2 to 5 hours after getting drunk, however, that boost fades and the immune system significantly slows down. Researchers noticed a reduction in the white blood cells important to immunity, along with an increase in proteins that reduce the immune system’s effectiveness.

The Mayo Clinic's findings also indicate that drinking too much alcohol can have a negative impact on the body’s immune system, specifically, that excessive drinking makes it harder for the body to resist disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes several different types of situations as “excessive drinking.” This can include “heavy drinking,” which is defined as eight or more drinks per week for women, or 15 drinks or more per week for men. This can also include binge drinking, which is defined as five drinks or more, consumed within a 2–3-hour period for men, or four drinks during the same time period for women.

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The Mayo Clinic also says that excessive drinking increases the risk of developing pneumonia, which is a common illness developed among people who suffer from severe symptoms due to COVID-19, and can complicate recovery.