Alcohol and Anemia: The Effects of Heavy Drinking on Iron Levels
There are lots of people who enjoy a craft cocktail, refreshing beer, or fine glass of wine from time to time. In moderation, many individuals can safely sip their favorite drinks on occasion without consequence. However, drinking too much on a regular basis can lead to a wide variety of health conditions, including anemia. But does alcohol cause anemia?
This article will answer that question and address how alcohol-induced anemia can be prevented and treated. It is important to understand the implications of one’s lifestyle choices so that potential health problems can be prevented and treated before they become worse.
Can Alcohol Cause Anemia?
While alcohol itself is not a sole cause of anemia, especially when consumed in moderation, drinking too much of it can certainly lead to the deficiency. People who consume excessive amounts of alcohol tend to have defective red blood cells that are destroyed before their natural lifespan would end.
An excessive alcohol intake affects the blood, spleen, liver, and bone marrow, which all make up the body’s hematologic system. This effect can reduce the body’s red blood cell count and result in a diagnosis of anemia. The symptoms of anemia may mirror certain symptoms of alcoholism, such as dizziness and fatigue.
Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse Anemia
Anemia is just one of many health risks of chronic heavy drinking. For example, heavy drinking has also been linked to an increased risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, cirrhosis of the liver, depression, high blood pressure, and gout.
Alcoholism is defined as a dependence upon alcohol, with frequent cravings, social triggers, and a chemical reliance in the body and brain. Alcohol has a toxic effect on the production of blood in the body, which means that alcoholics are hindering their own bodies’ natural functioning. But the good news is that once a person addresses and overcomes his or her alcohol abuse, many other symptoms, including anemia-related symptoms, will likely subside or fade away entirely.
Prevention of Alcohol Anemia
Obviously, the most effective way to prevent alcohol anemia is to avoid alcohol altogether. However, this is not always preferred or necessary. If a person plans to drink moderately on a regular basis, it may be wise to increase the amount of iron consumed, especially through healthy foods. Alcoholics may replace healthy calories from food with alcohol calories to maintain their weight. These individuals are at a heightened risk of developing anemia due to low iron. Vomiting caused by excessive drinking also rids the body of the valuable nutrients it needs.
Treatment of Alcohol Anemia
To treat the symptoms of alcohol anemia, doctors typically prescribe the same types of treatments as they would for other types of anemia. Iron supplements, like Fergon, are often used to restore iron levels back up to a healthy range. Blood transfusions or IV therapy may be recommended for patients with severe cases of iron deficiency anemia.
However, the other physical and emotional symptoms of alcoholism must be addressed as well through detoxification, rehabilitation, therapy, counseling, and support from loved ones. Caring and effective intervention may be required to stop and reverse the effects of alcoholism, and early action promises the most positive patient outcomes.
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