Author: John Carter

Alcohol Intolerance After COVID: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

alcohol and covid

All the participants drank at home during the lockdown, 20.7 % reported an increased consumption, mainly due to isolation (29.7 %), changes in everyday habits (27.5 %) or for coping with anxiety or depression (13.6 %) [41]. In line with these findings, a recently published study on alcohol consumption during the pandemic in US, conducted among 1,540 people aged between 30 and 80 years, showed that Americans drank about 14 % more alcohol this year, amid the COVID-19 pandemic compared to 2019. Thus, an alarming increase, more pronounced among women shows a 17 % increase in alcohol consumption among women and a 19 % increase among people aged between 30 and 60. According to this study, the consumption of large amounts of beverages among women – four or more drinks in two hours – has increased by 41 % this year. The increase reported for most participants translates into consuming an extra drink daily within a month [36].

  1. It does not reduce the risk of infection or the development of severe illness related to COVID-19.
  2. Some research suggests that alcohol intolerance is common for people with long COVID.
  3. There’s growing evidence that it may be a unique symptom of long COVID, particularly the post-viral fatigue syndrome (PVFS) type.

The danger is even greater for those diagnosed with psychological or psychiatric pathologies, as often the concomitant administration of psychotropic medication and alcohol is contraindicated [34]. Because of substantial and unexpected social and economic changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many people turned to alcohol and other drugs to cope with those stressors. Unfortunately, the pandemic also made accessing substance use disorder treatment more difficult. This research suggests that these issues are reflected in deaths related to alcohol use. Future research can focus on addressing the mental health needs of people with alcoholism or substance use disorders and people prone to it, especially during very stressful events.

But after her infection, she found herself unable to tolerate even small amounts of alcohol, experiencing unpleasant sensations like lightheadedness, sluggishness, and queasiness after just a few sips. This review looks at alcohol-related policies during the COVID-19 pandemic across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Specialists from the World Health Organization have warned against the consumption of alcohol for therapeutic purposes [77].

Read stories about the efforts underway to prevent, detect, and treat COVID-19 and its effects on our health. If you are a healthcare provider, learn how to help patients or clients who need help with an alcohol problem during the COVID-19 pandemic. The immune system is a complex set of organs, structures and molecules (such as humoral factors, signal molecules and immunoglobulins), lymphatic vessels and white blood cells are its most important components [49]. Through the immune system, the body provides a shield against disease and infection [50,51]. The role of the immune system is to protect the body from pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, parasites, toxins [52,53]. Certain foods, sports, supplements and natural remedies are some of the ways are suggested to augment immunity [[54], [55], [56]].

WHO recommendations on alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic

At the same time, there are some evidence that shows little changes in consumption patterns at the community level or even a decrease in overall alcohol use. The effects of the pandemic on alcohol-related problems have not been the same for everyone, though. One example is an NIAAA-supported study showing that fewer college students had AUD symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic. Alcohol use might also cause or worsen certain mental health conditions during the pandemic. For example, getting regular exercise and practicing stress reduction techniques can help reduce symptoms.

Multiple small studies suggest that during the pandemic, about 25% of people drank more than usual, often to cope with stress. The three women involved in the study reported having more frequent headaches, flushing, grogginess and “overwhelming” fatigue after having drinks. The 40-year-old woman said even drinking small amounts of alcohol makes her feel like she is suffering from “alcohol poisoning.” The 49-year-old woman told researchers a glass of wine made her feel like she couldn’t move. The patients consisted of a 60-year-old male, a 40-year-old female, a 49-year-old female and a 36-year-old female, according to the study.

alcohol and covid

Considering the evidence of increased alcohol consumption in women during the pandemic, the pandemic duration and the risks of unintended pregnancies, the odds of increased rates of FASD in the future are high. “Although we might soon enter a post−COVID era, new cases of FASD will persist for decades and permanently compromise the lives and life chances of those affected. FASD is both predictable and largely preventable but has been consistently ignored” [81].

The interconnection between alcohol dependence and depression is based on a circular etiopathogenic process, the two diseases worsening each other. For example, women with depressive disorders are more prone to excessive alcohol consumption by internalizing symptoms, a situation favored by social isolation. Therefore, consumption should be moderate in general, and especially during the pandemic [24]. In contrast, Nielsen IQ reported [25] a 477 % increase in online alcohol sales by end of April 2020. Social stressors include social isolation, unemployment, frontline work such as in a hospital, working from home, management of children’s schooling, as well as loss of loved ones, constrained financial resources and/or emotional and social support. Alcohol-related disorders are a major social problem especially during the COVID-19 pandemic [27].

Risky Alcohol Use: An Epidemic Inside the COVID-19 Pandemic

Alcohol can cause digestive upset, difficulty sleeping, trouble with concentration, and other unpleasant side effects that may worsen your symptoms. This connection could provide insights into how long COVID might contribute to alcohol intolerance. Long COVID refers to persistent symptoms that occur more than three weeks after the initial COVID-19 infection.

Alcohol consumption may make your symptoms worse, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Alcohol intolerance is a condition where the body reacts negatively to the consumption of alcohol. It’s typically related to an inability to properly process or metabolize alcohol.

alcohol and covid

Other interesting examples may be the decrease of alcohol consumption in college students, after the campus closure, the main explanation being that they got back home, to live with their families, with less social events and binge drinking [46,47]. To cope, many people turned to alcohol despite the risk of developing alcohol-related problems, including problem drinking and alcohol use disorder (AUD). Severe illness, grief, isolation, disrupted schooling, job loss, economic hardship, shortages of food and supplies, mental health problems, and limited access to health care — these are just some of the sources of stress people faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alcohol consumption, psychological imbalances and COVID-19

“Alcohol sensitivity following viral infections in general have not been well characterized in the medical literature,” according to the study. “However, it is a relatively common phenomenon observed in patients with (chronic fatigue syndrome), a related condition to (long COVID), and has been anecdotally reported on social media among (long COVID) patients.” People who develop a severe illness from COVID-19 are at risk of developing acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

In more serious cases, mixing alcohol with medications can cause internal bleeding and organ problems. For example, alcohol can mix with ibuprofen or acetaminophen to cause stomach problems and liver damage. According to the European WHO, alcohol plays no role in supporting the immune system to fight a viral infection. There’s no consensus on whether alcohol affects the antiviral medications used to treat COVID-19. You can take a couple of steps to avoid contracting or transmitting the COVID-19 virus while drinking. If you don’t have a physical dependency on alcohol, and you drink lightly or moderately, consider stopping while you have COVID-19.

Alcohol consumed for long time acts as a stressor on the body and makes it difficult to maintain homeostasis [28,29]. The immediate benefit of alcohol consumption can mask the long-term harmful effect [30,31]. Most often, adults who drink alcohol constantly justify consumption by claiming reducing mental stress, maintaining a state of physical and mental relaxation, but also improving their social behavior [32]. However, due to the action of ethanol on the central nervous system, at high doses of alcohol, there is an inhibitory effect that involves reduced discernment and weakened attention and memory [33].