Alcohol-related diseases on the rise due to Covid stress: UAE doctors

Ashwani Kumar /Abu Dhabi Filed on April 19, 2021
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Medics warned that excessive alcohol consumption weakens the immune system, making one vulnerable to Covid-19.

Doctors have reported an increase in alcohol-related hospitalisation cases amid the pandemic. On World Liver Day, they reiterated how drinking liquor weakens the immune system and leads to critical diseases.

Dr Eswar Moparty, gastroenterologist at Medeor Hospital, Dubai, noted that alcohol consumption — especially drinking to cope with work-related stress — is on the rise.

“There is an increase in the number of people consuming alcohol. Being off work, confined at home with depression due to lockdown or restrictions, some people tend to drink alcohol in greater quantities. There is a higher chance of contracting Covid-19 infection when visiting pubs and bars. Hence, there is a rise in hospitalisation for alcohol-related liver and pancreatic diseases,” he said.

Dr Moparty noted that drinking liquor doesn’t relieve stress but weakens the immune system, making a person more prone to Covid-19 infection.

“Alcohol affects every organ in the body. There is no real safe limit. Alcohol weakens the body makes it susceptible to infection by affecting the innate and acquired immunity. Alcohol increases gut formability, leading to bacterial translocation, sepsis and multi-organ failure. Rather than lowering stress, it worsens the body’s response to Covid-19.”

Dr Mashhood P.V., gastroenterology and hepatology specialist at Aster Hospital, Al Qusais, warned of a new wave of liver diseases after the pandemic ends.

“Alcohol-related liver disease is a common problem. Increased alcohol consumption and misuse is reported during this pandemic. It may take a couple of years to see the harmful effects. Excessive alcohol use has short and long-term health risks. Immediate effects include violent acts, fatal injuries due to vehicle accidents and high-risk behaviour. Long-term effects are cancer of liver, colon and breast, high blood pressure and stroke, and mental health issues like anxiety and depression, learning and memory problems. Other critical illnesses include acute liver failure and acute chronic liver failure, often requiring liver transplant.”

Doctors pointed out higher rates of morbidity and mortality in Covid-19 patients with chronic liver disease.

Dr Mashhood said: “From the available data, we found that preexisting chronic illnesses are associated with bad outcomes in Covid-19 patient. Mortality and morbidities are more in Covid-19 patients with preexisting liver disease.”

Dr Moparty added: “Alcohol usage leading to liver damage and Covid-19 is a deadly combination and can lead to morbidity or death. Hence, alcohol should be avoided or minimised during the pandemic.”

April 19 is observed as World Liver Day, mainly in India.


Ashwani Kumar

I am a newspaperman from the emirate of Abu Dhabi. A journalist at heart. I get my stories from the streets. A south Indian born in the Hindi heartland, I easily connect with people from different nationalities and cultures. I am calm like a monk, sensitive and very patient reporter. On the ground, I cover a range of topics related to community, health, embassy, tourism, transport, business and sports. I will go out on a leg to do what’s right and stand by what I believe in.

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