The impact of COVID-19, alcohol and drug abuse on the lungs

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By Patrick Obel

We are living at a time when the third wave of COVID-19 has hit our country with devastating results. It is therefore vital to observe the basic Ministry of Health protocols regarding prevention of infection and its spread.

Although the COVID-19 and its effects is a new condition that the doctors and other scientists are still learning more about and with the information that it affects the respiratory system, the effect on the lungs cannot be underestimated. According to reports, it has been reported that about 14% of COVID-19 cases have been severe with an infection that affects both lungs. It has also been observed that, the infection can damage the walls and linings of the air sacs in a patient’s lungs. As the body tries to fight it, the lungs become more inflamed and filled/flooded with fluid. The outcome then is that the function of the lungs is reduced, making it harder for the lungs to help oxygen enter the Red Blood cells which carry oxygen around the body and to get rid of carbon dioxide as we breath out, without oxygen there is no life.

According to David M. Guidot, and Ashish Jayant Mehta, authors of the book titled ‘Alcohol Use Disorders and the Lung’ research shows that alcohol abuse renders the lung susceptible to dysfunction in response to the inflammatory stresses of sepsis, trauma, and other clinical conditions recognized to cause acute lung injury.They further explain that alcohol consumption accompanied by other drugs makes the situation worse for the health of the consumer. When the lungs have been affected due to substance abuse, it predisposes the health of the consumer to more severe effects should they get COVID-19 infection.

Therefore, as part of our precautionary measure against severe effects of the COVID-19, especially to our lungs, a big part of the respiratory system that involves the exchange of gasses in our body. When an individual smokes, the cells that produce mucus in the lungs and airways grow in size and number making the amount of mucus to increase and thicken. Once this happens, it predisposes the lungs to negative impact that is worsened should the individual contract the COVID-19 virus. A study conducted by the National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) showed that there was a significant positive association between the alcohol consumption of the parents and that of their children. Parents should specifically take care of their influence upon their children.

The Counseling Center provides information and education communication (IEC) materials and offers support to those that are struggling with alcohol and substance use and or abuse. Where and when necessary we make referrals appropriately. As USIU-Africa, we care and urge us all to be aware, knowledgeable and careful about excessive and irresponsible alcohol consumption and other drugs such as marijuana and tobacco in their different forms that are easily abused. Join us in this year’s Alcohol and Drug Awareness Campaign with the theme: ’Not the Virus, Not the High- Alcohol and Drug Abuse Not for Us-Be Smart‘.

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