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Deadly bacterial infections linked to heavy drinking, finds study

Deadly bacterial infections linked to heavy drinking, finds study

May 03 | By Rachael

Heavy drinking is responsible for a number of disorders. From harming the liver and causing irreparable damage to the pancreas, heavy drinking is also responsible for increasing the heart rate, a condition commonly known as atrial fibrillation. Heavy drinking over a prolonged period makes the body vulnerable to a slew of infections. As a result, cells associated with the body’s defense mechanism, such as those in the lymph, blood and bone marrow, stop functioning to their optimum capacity.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology in March 2017 suggested that heavy drinking is associated with a rare bacterial infection commonly referred to as bacteremia. A person diagnosed with this infection tends to suffer from mental confusion, mild fever, gastrointestinal problems, and even death. As per the researchers, it is the topmost priority to identify the strain of bacteria involved in such infections, especially in individuals with an alcohol use disorder (AUD).

Heavy drinkers receiving injections for alcohol abuse more prone to bacteremia infection

Bacteremia is known to occur in alcohol abusers who receive injections for their alcohol use. The bacterial strain Anaerobiospirillum succiniciproducens usually infects patients whose immune system is compromised, especially in people addicted to alcohol or drugs.

In the present study titled, “The Brief Case: Anaerobiospirillum succiniciproducens Bacteremia and Pyomyositis,” the researchers established a link between heavy drinking and the deadly bacterial infection. It was also observed that the patients who received intravenous naltrexone for their AUD were more vulnerable to acquire the bacterial disease.

The study presented the case of a homeless man who was admitted to the emergency department with fever and cough. The patient had an AUD and received opioid antagonist naltrexone injected intramuscularly in the gluteal region.  The patient reportedly drank two dozen cans of beer on a daily basis and also smoked cigarette, before being admitted to the hospital. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1994 approved the use of naltrexone for the treatment of alcohol abuse. Naltrexone is a common opioid antagonistic that is increasingly being used for the treatment of alcohol and substance use disorders. It withstands the euphoric effects of drugs and alcohol, and also helps drug-dependent people to stay drug free, subsequent to their rehab and therapy.

The patient continued to have fever, in spite of consistent changes in medications. On further examination, the researchers confirmed the presence of the bacterial infection caused by Anaerobiospirillum succiniciproducens. Brain scans also revealed infections around the gluteal region of the patient, which were probably associated with the naltrexone injections that the patient had been receiving for his AUD. “Early diagnosis and appropriate antimicrobial therapy are crucial to the outcomes of bacteremic patients,” said the researchers.

Seeking professional help for alcoholism

Studies have shown that heavy alcohol drinkers are more vulnerable to various infectious diseases. Even deadly diseases like hepatitis and AIDS are commonly found in chronic alcohol users. Studies have shown that even moderate amounts of drinking puts a considerable strain on one’s immune system and makes it difficult to withstand infections.

One of the best ways to quit alcohol is to start the recovery process by taking small manageable steps to reduce the amount of alcohol being consumed. Some of the strategies to reduce alcohol intake are keeping a track of each drink, familiarizing oneself with standard drink sizes, setting goals, ensuring intervals between drinks, avoiding drinks on an empty stomach and avoiding triggers.

If you or your loved one is fighting alcohol addiction, contact the Colorado Alcohol Addiction Help for guidance on the best facilities offering addiction treatment in Colorado. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-592-9261 or chat online with our counselors to know about some of the finest alcohol addiction treatment centers in Colorado.

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