What Happens When You Drink Alcohol with COPD?

22 thoughts on “What Happens When You Drink Alcohol with COPD?

  1. Cindy says:

    I like this article very much! I find many things ppl need to know!!

    1. PERF says:

      We’re glad you find it helpful!

  2. Heidi McCray says:

    I love these articles. As my COPD progresses I know I may not realize the speed it progresses. I am still learning as much as I can. These articles aid me in being proactive and taking positive steps to understand this disease and taking care of myself. I also developed Lupus which also has its breathing problems as a “gift” to me! Thankfully I have a great medical team and a wonderful place to speak to others and express my true emotions. MyCopd team . Net is a great place to vent. There I have made many online friends that I can be happy with when I have good days and they do too! We can express our frustrations with each other without being judged, everyone from around the world is so supportive and it is great to learn from each other what they have gone through or now dealing with as the disease progresses. Takes away the fears of the unknown so when we get to whatever level the disease takes us to we are more confident. Great website! Come join your fellow “Gaspers” so we can help one another. Okay… getting off my town platform.

    1. PERF says:

      What a positive and proactive attitude you bring to your COPD, Heidi, and we’re glad that our articles are helping you along with the other support you’ve found. We think the group support website you referenced is found at https://www.mycopdteam.com/. Is that the one you meant to share?

    2. Frieda E. Charron says:

      I was diagnosed with COPD two years ago. I have never smoked a day in my life. I’ve been a Hair Designer for over fifty years and I was told that the injestion of hair sprays and hair coloring over such a long period is what caused me to have this disease. We live in an area that has little medical services.
      I’m on two inhalers and a med called sinigular. I’ve always had alot of energy but I find that almost everything that I do that I’m gasping for air. It seems that it progresses pretty fast. I’m looking for as much information as I can get to learn more about this disease.

      1. Harry Rossiter says:

        Dear Frieda,

        You can be helped to feel much better, but not from any website. Even if I provided several pages of information, I would be doing you an injustice. You need to see a pulmonologist (a doctor who deals with lung problems), if only to get a better diagnosis! Ask your current physician for a referral for a consultation with a pulmonologist. If your physician does not personally know a pulmonologist, one can be found listed on-line in the nearest city, medical center, or university. You can look on the internet and find much information of interest on any doctor you are referred to, or even find someone yourself if your current physician can’t help. Yes, you may need to take off a day from work to keep an appointment, but it will be time well spent because Frieda, you CAN be helped! There is no reason for you to continue suffering as you are now, while facing the possibility of getting worse.

        Ask your doctor for copies of all your records, especially spirometry, pulmonary function tests, x-rays and lab work. Keep these records in a file to which you can refer. By law, these records are yours. Your current doctor also should send this information to the pulmonologist you consult. You will need to sign a permission slip for this information to be provided to you and to the pulmonologist. Some doctors charge $10.00 or so, but most do not. When you prepare for your first pulmonologist visit, write down a list of all medications you take, including over-the-counter (OTC) medications, eye drops, vitamins etc. Try to think in advance what your symptoms are and why you wish to see a pulmonary doctor. Write down everything that bothers you in case you get nervous and forget what you want to discuss. Of special interest will be the amount of coughing you do, the sputum you cough up and the color of it. Does coughing and shortness of breath wake you up at night? Do you get short of breath and tired with activities you used to do without problems? Do you have GERD, that is, gastric reflux? All this and more will be of interest to the pulmonologist you see.

        Please make that request for a consultation as soon as possible! I hate to hear of someone suffering, as you are suffering. Keep remembering that you CAN be helped!

        Please keep us posted on how you are doing. We care.

        Mary Burns, RN, BS

  3. Jill Smith says:

    My Dad has COPD and has had a heart stent put in Years ago and my cousin has been out there saying He is Trying to cough up phlegm she is talking about giving a little bit of whiskey and I told her don’t I am so glad I found this article how do I save it for her to read! Thank You so much for this article!

    1. PERF says:

      Thank you for writing, Jill, and we’re glad you found this article helpful. To save a copy of this article for your cousin, you can print it; there are no restrictions on printing copies of the articles on our website. If you’re using a PC, you can print by pressing the CTRL button and then, while holding it down, clicking the letter “P” on your keyboard. You can also send your cousin this link to the article: https://perf2ndwind.org/what-happens-when-you-drink-alcohol-with-copd/

  4. Kathleen Kropf says:

    Thank you so much now I realize what I’m doing to myself .Gonna make some changes

  5. Tonks123 says:

    The article talks like you drink a lot i like s glass of whiskey or 2 at night time thats all but i asked dr he said drink in mordenation is fine

    1. Harry Rossiter says:

      How wise of you to check with your physician regarding that drink or two you have every night. We agree with drinking alcohol in moderation but everyone is different. Checking with your doctor was the right thing to do. We are glad that you found our article thought provoking and hope those we have planned for the future will be also. Keep reading and stay in touch,

      Warm regards,

      Mary Burns, RN, BS

  6. brenda odillon says:

    I drink 12 to 18 beers a night. I find myself coughing and short of breath at times. Does this have anything to do with my drinking

    1. Harry Rossiter says:

      Dear Brenda

      You are to be congratulated on admitting the amount you drink and wondering if it is harmful. That must have been difficult for you. You probably are hoping that amount you drink is not really harmful, but I suspect you already know that answer. I will answer anyway. Yes, it is harmful. By responding to our blog on alcohol, you already have read some of the harmful effects that amount of alcohol causes, so I won’t go over all that again.

      You don’t say if you smoke, but that often goes along with heavy alcohol consumption. Judging by your coughing and your shortness of breath you may well have a lung problem. Only a physical examination by your doctor, and some testing, can give you that answer. In any case, your doctor can probably give you help for your coughing and shortness of breath.

      I suspect you haven’t recently seen a doctor to discuss these problems. Since you are concerned enough to ask these questions, you may may now be strong enough to accept that you do need help with your drinking, as well as with any lung problem you have. Help IS available for both problems! I congratulate you on trying to find it. That must have been hard, but it shows you have a lot more strength than you may realize. Please, please see your doctor to get that help you need and deserve.

      With best wishes for your future, and the hope that you stay in touch,

      Mary Burns, RN, BS

  7. Tracy says:

    I’ve read your article and I’ve learnt a few things thank u much as I myself is diagnose with c.o.p.d. I’m scared but I’ve learnt to accept whatever fate I have.thank u much.

    1. Harry Rossiter says:

      Dear Tracy,

      Don’t be scared and don’t accept what you assume to be your fate! There is so much that can be done to help you, no matter what your problem is, now that you have accepted the fact that you do have a problem! Don’t you know that, with your acceptance, you already have achieved a huge accomplishment? My wonderful Pulmonary Rehabilitation patient club, the PEP Pioneers, was started by an alcoholic (who no longer drank). And as far as COPD is concerned, there is a great deal that can be done to help you! A patient on oxygen was referred to us who had been bedridden for 6 months before he got up out bed and finished our 6 week pulmonary rehabilitation program. Eight or so months later, he walked the Torrance 5K Thanksgiving Turkey Trot—dragging his oxygen. Can I promise a similar amazing outcome for you? Of course not! But I can let you know a much better life is possible, so do NOT give up!

      Please know that a crucial first step to doing better is to find a doctor you feel comfortable with who will help guide you to available therapies.

      Mary Burns, RN, BS

  8. It’s good to know that alcohol damages the surface of your lungs and worsen your shortness of breath. My brother has been having some issues breathing due to his work environment. I’ll pass this information along to him so that he can avoid consuming alcohol and making the problem worse.

    1. PERF says:

      Dear Tom,

      It is so nice of you to be concerned about your brother’s breathing problems! I assume he is not smoking since you didn’t mention that. Moderating alcohol intake is always a good idea, but unfortunately that probably won’t solve his breathing problems as alcohol consumption may well not be the cause of them. I highly recommend that your brother see a Pulmonologist (a lung specialist) to have his lungs tested and have his problem evaluated soon. Have him ask his primary care physician for a referral. Will he listen to you if you suggest that? I hope so! The air in his work environment may be the problem, or it could be something else, especially if he has a smoking history. We can’t suggest or offer more help without knowing more about what is going on. As a pulmonary nurse, I have taken care of far too many people gasping for air because they waited too long to see a doctor. Please don’t let your brother become another one of them.

      Feel free to write back if you have a question you think I can answer. Good luck in convincing your brother not to ignore his breathing problem!

      With best wishes,

      Mary Burns, RN, BS

  9. Jenn says:

    Recently diagnosed copd was so ignorant of the disease I started having panic attacks. The best I got from my MD was “stop worrying “. This info is a huge help for me.

    1. PERF says:

      Dear Jen,

      Let me start by saying how lucky you are that you got this diagnosis now, in 2019! Forty years ago there would have been very limited help and a grim future for you. Now, there are all sorts of things that can be done to insure that you live out a normal, comfortable, life span, so there is absolutely no need to panic!

      I am glad you find our website and blogs of help. Keep reading and you will learn there are many things that will help, like starting an exercise regime that is tailored for you. However, the first thing thing we would suggest, is to see if your current physician, if not a pulmonologist, will give you a referral to a pulmonologist for a consultation. A pulmonologist is a lung specialist on the multiple conditions, with different levels of severity, that fall under the COPD umbrella. In addition to explaining tests like the pulmonary function, if not already done, your symptoms can then be discussed to see what can be suggested to start helping you feel much better.

      And you can feel much better, no matter what your symptoms are!

      Best wishes, with the hope that you now will no longer panic!

      Mary Burns, RN, BS

  10. dave says:

    My mom has brochiectasas. Is this a form of COPD and do the same things apply as far as alcohol consumption?

    1. PERF says:

      Dear Dave,

      Bronchiectasis is a miserable respiratory disease and your mother has my sympathies for needing to deal with it. Bronchiectasis has similarities with COPD, and results in obstructed airways, difficulty emptying the lung and shortness of breath. Like asthma, however, bronchiectasis is not necessarily caused by smoking; although a smoker can also get it. Although the symptoms are similar, the biological effects of bronchiectasis and COPD actually differ. Unlike COPD, Bronchiectasis causes enlargement of the airways. The problem is that these enlarged airways can then become blocked with mucus and make breathing out difficult. So COPD and bronchiectasis are different but related diseases that occur separately, and can also coexist.

      The potential problems mentioned in our blog post about alcohol intake apply to all respiratory patients who drink alcohol to excess, as it also does to many other conditions also. It’s worth pointing out that no-one really knows how much alcohol intake is too much, in terms of worsening symptoms in respiratory patients. Some data support that mild alcohol intake can even reduce airway inflammation and enhance mucus clearance, but most agree that prolonged or heavy exposure to alcohol intake makes things worse for respiratory patients (see https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2081157/).

      I assume your mother has a pulmonologist caring for her with all the latest help now becoming available to help those with bronchiectasis. If you are concerned about the amount of alcohol that your mother is drinking, or even if she should be drinking at all, ask her to discuss this with her health care provider for the latest advice which will depend on her specific condition or even the medications she is taking.

      Your mother is fortunate to have a son concerned about her condition.

      Best Wishes,

      May Burns, RN, BS

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