” is alcohol killing my germs bc i get less sick every time i go out?”

Last week my friend texted me: “i’m convinced the alcohol is killing my germs bc i get less sick every time i go out.”  I “lol’d” but then started to seriously think, could my friend’s alcohol consumption actually being killing her germs and getting rid of her illness?

I did some research. Alcohol by itself or as the main concentration is not FDA approved to act as a disinfectant. In a medical situation ethyl and isopropyl alcohol are bactericidal water-soluble chemical compounds that can sterilize and kill bacteria. Because ethyl alcohol is also known as drinking alcohol, I figured I had found my answer, drinking alcohol disinfects. But I still considered to research. I found that absolute ethyl alcohol works to disinfect by breaking down proteins and lipids killing bacterial and viral germs, but in order for the ethyl to be affective and actually break down these germ cells, it has to be used at a concentration of 70%. Any concentration higher will dehydrate and any lower will not be strong enough to have any effect. Isopropyl alcohol functions in the same way.

My discovery that a 70% concentration of the alcohol is necessary to kill off any germs, made me question my initial instinct that yes drinking alcohol kills your germs. Concentration of alcohol in alcoholic beverages ranges from about 4%-40%. This means that the necessary 70% concentration is not there. An alcoholic beverage does not have the same effect as pure alcohols used for medical uses for this reason.

Another reason drinking alcohol does not kill your germs in the way that disinfectant alcohol does is based on your anatomy. When you are sick your respiratory system is infected. The alcohol that you drink goes straight to your your stomach through your esophagus, not passing through the location of the sickness. Germs are usually found in the trachea but they won’t be killed here because the alcohol consumed will not sit in your throat long enough and saliva from swallowing will wash the remaining alcohol away.

Germs from a cold or flu virus enter the patients bloodstream, but like the germs in the throat, they will not be killed by consumption of an alcoholic beverage either. Once the germs enter the bloodstream a concentration of about 60%-80% is needed to kill the germs. A concentration that high in a person’s bloodstream means more alcohol than blood. A person with a BAC of 60 to 80% will die.

The best treatment for a sick body is rest and hydration. Drinking alcohol interferes with both of these. Alcohol causes dehydration through excessive urination and vomiting, both affected by the production of the anti-diuretic hormone. Excessive urination means a higher concentration of salt and lower volume of water in the body and because alcohol decreases the production of the anti-diuretic hormone, the amount of urine is increased causing dehydration. Not only does it interfere with hormone production, alcohol also interrupts REM sleep. Drinking alcohol causes your body to skip over the first stages of REM sleep, going straight into a deep sleep.

So no, drinking a beer or taking a shot is not going to kill your germs. Alcohol masks any other feelings, which is why alcoholics never feel hungover because they keep drinking, covering up the symptoms of a hangover. If you are sick and drinking alcohol the only thing you’re doing is covering up your symptoms. The human body does not allow for high enough concentrations of alcohol needed to kill bacterial or viral germs causing a sickness.













3 thoughts on “” is alcohol killing my germs bc i get less sick every time i go out?”

  1. Jackson Grey Hope

    This post is very informative. Sometimes I will tell my friends I am not feeling well and I am not feeling up to going out. I will usually get a response like, “Drink it off,” or “Just drink and you’ll be fine.” I always wondered if I should listen to them because they seem so convincing, however, I found that when I do listen to them I usually wake up the next day feeling much worse. However, the night that I actually consumed alcohol, I felt fine. I like how you incorporated psychological terms in your post like REM sleep. In a psychology class I took in high school, I learned that alcohol throws off your circadian rhythm, which is known as your bodily clock, or in other words, the system inside our bodies that tells us when to sleep, eat, and perform regular daily activities. When consuming alcohol, this is completely thrown off. For example, when alcohol consumption is occurring and you get 8 hours of sleep per say, the next day it will not feel as if you actually got 8 hours of sleep. Instead, it will feel like you got 4 hours of sleep. This ties into your argument that the best way to get rid of a sickness is getting sleep, and consuming alcohol definitely hinders this. Here is an article explaining how drinking alcohol throws off the circadian rhythm, and it provides more information to back up the facts I have just stated.

  2. Avery Elizabeth Holland

    I loved this topic. It was extremely easy to read and follow along and your statistics really backed up your argument. You used several sources throughout your blog showing you really put in the effort. I also had a similar feeling that whenever I drank when I was sick I felt much better. However, your blog post made me remember that while I may have felt better during the drinking, I felt much worse afterwards. I guess this was because of the dehydration and lack of REM sleep. I also found it very interesting that alcohol is beneficial for certain things at high concentrations and used negatively at lower concentrations. Overall, good post!

  3. Darby Helen Smith

    This blog post caught my attention because I thought it sounded a bit ridiculous considering my intuition was that consumption of alcohol does nothing but make you more sick! As I read the information that you provided I was glad to realize that I am not absolutely crazy. However, it is very interesting that one kind of alcohol completely treats certain things for humans and can also diminish others! I think that you chose a great topic and shows a good thinking process.

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