Thursday, April 25, 2013

Day 18 - T-Cell-Minus

Okay, let's get the bad "pnews" out of the way - and leave the freaking pneumonia crap behind. There is a connection between alcohol abuse and pneumonia. Alcoholism can cause this serious lung infection in several ways (the link with all this info will be below).

1) Alcohol abuse generally compromises our T cells - white blood cells that play a major role in keeping our immune systems healthy. Meaning alcoholics are more susceptible to all infections and diseases.

2) Alcoholism seems to negatively affect how the cilia work - cilia are tiny hairs that line the trachea between the nose and the lungs. These hairs literally beat and sweep bacteria and foreign particles out of our lungs to help keep them clean. Alcoholism impairs this movement meaning more bacteria can get into our lungs.

3) Pneumonia develops when certain bacteria festers in the lungs. Alcoholics are more likely to have foreign particles in their lungs because their breathing can be hindered when they pass out and/or vomit. Maybe you remember a nasty night or two where your breathing - or someone else's - seemed clumsy and awkward after a night of hard drinking. Not to mention passing out often means plopping down in some slobbery position that makes it easier for bacteria to enter our throat and lungs, making alcoholics more susceptible to lung infections in general, and pneumonia in particular.

Between 5-10 million people get pneumonia every year in the U.S. - and 40 - 70,000 of those people die. But as you'll see from the link below, it's far more likely to be fatal in alcoholics.

As I mentioned, I've never had a serious disease before - so this has caused some serious soul searching on my part.

Was my wine habit really responsible for this?

To be honest, I haven't actually been drunk in ages. Not even on the Vegas trip. (Boo hoo, right?) Let alone passed out in a stupor. And as I reported in the post A Quizzical Day this past January, according to the Johns Hopkins Alcohol Abuse Screening Quiz I'm not even in the danger zone anymore. So as wary as I continue to about my health and my drinking, I'm convinced alcohol abuse didn't cause my pneumonia.

I think faulty humidifiers might be partly to blame. I try to keep them clean, but you know ... it's a tough job. The other night, I woke up coughing, turned the humidifier off, coughing stopped. So the humidifiers have been shelved for the season.

I have another theory that I'll talk more about later - because it does have to do with someone's drinking, though not mine (the woman who sat next to us on the flight to Vegas actually). But that story's for another day.

For now, I just wanted to point out yet another link between alcohol abuse and disease. Because alcoholism doesn't just damage our livers. It compromises our health on every level - physically and mentally. So it's just another reason to get control ... and I honestly believe that cleansing can help us do that.

Here's that article about pneumonia and alcoholism from The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

So that's the bad news. The good news? (For me anyway ...)

Ten days left to go! :)