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Does alcohol thin your blood?

In moderate amounts, alcohol has been found to improve heart health and decrease the risk of stroke. However, heavy drinking has shown a link to the development of heart problems such as heart disease and an increased risk of stroke. Since the effects of alcohol on the body are so conflicting depending on how much alcohol is consumed, it can be confusing to determine how alcohol consumption actually affects you.

Alcohol can act as an anticoagulant when consumed in moderate amounts. Coagulation refers to the process of blood sticking together to form clumps. These clumps can form blockages in the blood vessels that raise blood pressure. The strain from these blockages can cause the blood vessel walls to thicken, which raises blood pressure even further. If a block forms in the brain, it can cause an ischemic stroke, which starves parts of the brain of oxygen. If a clot forms in the heart, it can cause cardiac arrest.

In heavy amounts, alcohol has the ability to thin your blood because it prevents blood vessels from sticking together in a process known as blood clotting. Alcohol interferes with the clotting process by reducing the number of platelets in the blood because it decreases blood cell production in the bone marrow. Alcohol consumption also affects the clotting process because it makes the platelets you do have less sticky. Although the thinning of the blood can help reduce the risk of ischemic stroke, it can also increase the risk of a different kind of stroke, known as hemorrhagic stroke.

This is because the blood vessels, when thinner, are more susceptible to the possibility of swelling and bursting. In individuals who do not suffer from alcohol use disorder, the effect of alcohol on the platelets is short-lived. However, in people who engage in binge drinking–which is defined as 5 or more drinks for men or 4 or more drinks for women in the span of 2 hours–or heavy drinking, which is more than 3 drinks per day, there can be a rebound effect in which the bleeding risk increases, even after they’ve stopped drinking.

In order to thicken your blood after drinking alcohol, your doctor may recommend that you take prescription blood-thickening medications. You can also reduce blood thinning with natural alternatives, such as eating foods high in vitamin K as this vitamin plays a large role in the blood coagulation process. Foods rich in vitamin K include raw Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and broccoli.

Drinking alcohol in amounts that are considered alcohol abuse can cause many other health problems besides the thinning of your blood. Alcohol can affect your digestive and endocrine glands by causing inflammation of the pancreas which leads to pancreatitis. Changes in your digestive system due to alcohol consumption can also increase the risk of ulcers or hemorrhoids.

Additionally, alcohol can cause long term inflammatory damage to the liver which can develop into cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver. Alcohol can also affect the body’s sugar levels which may result in diabetes. Heavy alcohol consumption can also damage your central nervous system, which may affect your ability to create long-term memories, think clearly, make rational choices, and regulate your emotions. In extreme cases, chronic drinking may cause permanent brain damage.

Many of these issues can be prevented by quitting the consumption of alcohol. If your drinking has progressed to the point where it is a problem, this can lead to withdrawal symptoms when you attempt to stop drinking. Alcohol withdrawal can lead to adverse effects on the body as well, so it’s important to go through alcohol detox at a treatment facility. Quitting alcohol alone can be dangerous, but having medical supervision will help ensure that the process goes safely and smoothly.

Arista Recovery can help you quit alcohol in a safe and comfortable environment that prevents withdrawal symptoms from becoming life-threatening. In addition, our staff can help you stop drinking to reverse or prevent further damage from occurring to your body. If alcohol use disorder has been taking over your life and negatively affecting your health and relationships, contact our treatment center today to say if alcohol rehab at Arista Recovery is right for you.

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