Alcohol and the Lung

By Mehta, Ashish J.; Guidot, David M. | Alcohol Research, July 1, 2017 | Go to article overview

Alcohol and the Lung


Mehta, Ashish J., Guidot, David M., Alcohol Research


Few social practices have had a longer or more complicated history in human civilization than the consumption of alcohol. As documented in academic writings, but even more commonly in art and music, humans have consumed alcohol for thousands of years, and drinking is either a celebrated facet of social activities or a proscribed practice, depending on the local moral or religious views. Although alcohol intoxication has been described in various written recordings since antiquity, it is only relatively recently that its true effects on lung health have been recognized. In the latter years of the 18 th century, the first Surgeon General of the United States of America, Benjamin Rush (for whom the medical school in Chicago is named), noted that excessive alcohol consumption was associated with pneumonia (see Happel and Nelson 2005; Mehta and Guidot 2012). More than a century later, William Osler wrote that alcohol abuse was the most important risk factor for pneumonia (see Happel and Nelson 2005; Mehta and Guidot 2012). As modern medicine evolved throughout the 20th century, it became abundantly clear that alcohol use disorder (AUD) rendered people more susceptible to a wide variety of lung infections, including bacterial pneumonias and tuberculosis, and increased morbidity and mortality. In a now-classic modern citation, Perlino and Rimland (1985) coined the term "alcoholic leukopenic pneumococcal sepsis syndrome" when they published a case series of patients with underlying AUD who suffered from pneumococcal pneumonia and sepsis associated with leukopenia that was associated with a mortality of more than 80 percent. Excessive alcohol consumption seems to increase susceptibility to pneumonia through multiple mechanisms. The major factors include an increased risk of aspiration, abnormalities in the way particles are eliminated from the conducting airways through the mucus (i.e., in mucociliary clearance), and impaired activity of one branch of the immune system (i.e., innate immunity) within the lower airways (for reviews, see Joshi and Guidot 2007; Mehta and Guidot 2012).

Even more recently, researchers have identified an association between underlying AUD and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). ARDS is a severe form of acute lung injury that occurs as a complication of diverse insults, including sepsis, massive aspiration, and trauma; it has a mortality rate of 30 percent to 50 percent, even with state-of-the-art modern medical care in an intensive care unit (Villar et al. 2011; Wang et al. 2014; Ware 2006; Ware and Matthay 2000). In 1996, a seminal study demonstrated for the first time that AUD independently conferred an approximately twofold increase in risk of developing ARDS (Moss et al. 1996). A subsequent prospective study focusing only on patients with severe sepsis revealed that the relative risk of developing ARDS was closer to fourfold higher in those with an underlying AUD;1 this effect was independent of factors such as age, smoking, severity of illness, and nutritional status (Moss et al. 2003). Other investigators have confirmed these associations (Iribarren et al. 2000; Licker et al. 2003; Spies et al. 1996; von Heymann et al. 2002). Taken together, all of these findings indicate that drinking patterns that define AUD are associated with a significantly increased risk of serious lung infections and acute lung injury and thereby contribute to the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans every year, and many more worldwide.

This review first will discuss key aspects of the epidemiology and pathophysiology of AUD and lung health, before focusing more in-depth on lung infections and acute lung injury, which comprise the majority of alcohol-related lung diseases. The article also will briefly review some of the experimental therapies that hold promise for decreasing the enormous morbidity and mortality caused by the "alcoholic lung" in our society.

Alcohol and the Airways

The potential influence of alcohol consumption on airway health and disease has been documented for a long time. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Alcohol and the Lung
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.