Alcohol and the lung also is adversely affected by alcohol abuse, a fact often overlooked by clinicians and the public. Individuals with AUD are more likely to develop pneumonia, tuberculosis (TB), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection, and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Increased susceptibility to these and other pulmonary infections is caused by impaired immune responses in people with AUD. The key immune cells involved in combating pulmonary conditions such as pneumonia, TB, RSV infection, and ARDS are neutrophils, lymphocytes, alveolar macrophages, and the cells responsible for innate immune responses.
Researchers are only now beginning to understand how alcohol affects these cells and how these effects contribute to the pathophysiology of pulmonary diseases in people with AUD.