“Stress.” This one word can describe anything from the national economy to work conditions to one’s psychological state on any given day, when long commutes, work deadlines and family duties have taken their toll. Stress — much like its relative “addiction” — is a 21st century buzzword. But is stress real, as in an external phenomenon that can be measured, or is it all in our heads?
Scientists have known for a long time that chronic alcohol use can and will damage the human brain, but the latest data show that alcoholics suffer neurological damage that is even more decisive and severe than had previously been suspected.
Emphysema is a lung disease marked by the gradual destruction of tiny sacs in the lungs, called alveoli, which introduce oxygen into the bloodstream and remove the blood-borne waste gas carbon dioxide. In its main form, it belongs to a larger grouping of lung diseases, known collectively as chronic pulmonary obstructive disease, or COPD. People who smoke “crack” cocaine can significantly elevate their risks for a form of emphysema called bullous emphysema, which occurs when multiple alveoli collapse and form larger sacs, known as bullae, that don’t contribute to proper oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange within the lungs.
Pneumonia is a general medical term used to describe inflammation that occurs in various places inside the lungs. While most people develop this inflammation as a consequence of exposure to certain viruses or bacteria, others develop lung inflammation from additional, less common sources. Alcohol abuse is a known risk factor for the onset of pneumonia. In some alcohol abusers and alcoholics, this risk comes from decreased immune function and increased susceptibility to infection. In others, it comes from structural changes that reduce the body’s ability to mechanically expel infectious microorganisms. Alcohol abuse and alcoholism also increase the chances for development of a specific form of pneumonia, called aspiration pneumonia, associated with the inhalation of foreign material into the lungs. Continue reading