St. Patrick’s Day and coronavirus: How binge drinking is affecting your immunity

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The Chatham County Sherrif’s Office arrested 260 people and charged 81 people with DUI’s last year during St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

With the threat of coronavirus increasing each day, Dr. Leslie Sizemore of SouthCoast Medical says it’s important now more than ever to protect your immune system — especially approaching a holiday centered around drinking and crowded parades.

“In medicine, binge drinking is considered more than five drinks in a short period of time,” Sizemore said. “Moderate alcohol intake is one to three drinks in a small period of time or a day is considered perfectly fine.”

Sizemore says consuming large amounts of alcohol can lower your immune system and make you more susceptible to picking up viruses and infections.

“It does lower your immune system a little bit,” Sizemore said. “You’re going to be doing things you may not normally do where you’re touching surfaces that may be contaminated by whatever, including the influenza virus. So there is a slight decrease in immunity with binge drinking.”

She gave the standard advice for keeping yourself healthy: wash your hands frequently, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if you don’t have access to a sink, and cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.

“Just take it slow,” Sizemore said. “You’ve got all day to enjoy these drinks so give your body time to adapt and see what kind of effect it’s going to have on you.”

Aside from the global outbreak, Sizemore says binge drinking can take a serious toll on your mental and physical health, especially if it becomes a habit over time.

“Alcohol, in general, is a large burden on the medical community,” Dr. Sizemore said. “People end up in car accidents, people who fall and bump their head on the sidewalk, people who trip and end up hurting their leg, these are all visits that end up at facilities, whether it’s their doctor’s office the next day or it’s something more serious they have to go to the emergency room for.”

If you find that you’re feeling under the weather after the busy weekend, SouthCoast Medicine has walk-in urgent care hours to make sure patients get the care they need quickly.

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