Why Does Alcohol Cause Bruising?
Falling off of a bike or hitting a coffee table with your leg and then waking up the next morning with a bruise – this happened to everyone. Before we dive into the topic of alcohol and bruising, let’s first review what bruises are. Bruises occur when blood vessels get damaged and burst under the skin, so the blood from them, spreading, causes a slight swelling of soft tissues. Usually, a black and blue mark pops up as the result of an injury.
Bruising also occurs for several other reasons besides an injury. For example, it occurs more easily as we get older, due to sun damage, certain medications, and genetic bleeding disorder. Today, we will review another reason behind the bruises – alcohol.
How alcohol affects liver cells
Ethanol or ethyl alcohol, which is the basis of any alcoholic beverage, is a toxic substance for the human body. As you drink alcohol, especially more than maximum recommended, your liver is one of the many parts of your body that will suffer. Your liver is the organ that has to process the toxin, the poison that alcohol is.
Getting into the liver, ethanol undergoes a number of transformations, and the products of its processing bombard cells. As a result, the cell walls, which are responsible for the passage of only useful substances into a healthy cell are damages. Consequently, the function of membranes is disrupted and poisons and toxins penetrate a healthy cell and can both damage and completely kill it.
Liver, alcohol, and bruising
The liver disease related to alcohol progresses through several stages, although they can interestingly occur at the same time to some extent.
- Fatty liver. You may feel fine and not have any symptoms, but fat is building inside your liver, stopping it from working so efficiently.
- Hepatitis. This is already an inflammation of the liver. It usually makes one feel tired, sick. You might also experience pain at the top right side of your stomach, jaundice, weight loss, etc.
- Cirrhosis. This is when you get permanent scarring of your liver. The symptoms are similar to hepatitis, only the pain is usually more acute.
What role does the liver play in alcohol-related bruising? Other symptoms of hepatitis and cirrhosis not mentioned above are person bleeding more easily and getting bruises underneath the skin. Why? Bruises due to alcohol damaged liver happen because this important organ has slowed or stopped the production of proteins that your body needs for blood clotting.
Platelets are a component of blood that help form clots and slow bleeding. If your liver is damaged or diseased, you will have fewer platelets circulating in your blood, which usually causes easy bruising. A hematologist can assess your platelet levels if you want to confirm that this is what is causing your bruising. Keep in mind that there can be other causes, besides alcohol, of bruises that easily appear on your body, and they are not limited to just one.
Healthy liver and alcohol intake
The human liver performs over 500 different functions in the body. It synthesizes essential substances vital for the body and produces bile, without which digestion will become impossible. Alcohol has a destructive effect on liver cells, disrupting the performance of its functions, which negatively affects the entire body. Therefore, alcohol and a healthy liver are incompatible. This is a proven fact.
The initial stages of alcoholic hepatitis pass unnoticeably, and only upon examination by a doctor, it is possible to note the beginning of the damage to liver cells, which can still be reversible. Thus, do not delay your visit to the doctor because:
- Inflammatory liver disease develops for about 3-5 years.
- The timely diagnosis gives a chance for a full recovery.
- Without treatment and a lifestyle change, inflammation can go to the stage of liver cirrhosis.
- Postponing a visit to a doctor leads to sad consequences: 3-10% of people with alcoholic liver disease who constantly drink alcohol develop liver cancer.
The good news is that your liver is amazing at recovery if you start taking care of it in the early stages of its disease. Actually, just stopping drinking may be enough. If the case is more severe, a special treatment prescribed by a doctor based on your symptoms and other data may be required.
Finally, remember that the best treatment is prevention. If, despite all the arguments, you are not going to completely abandon alcohol, try to reduce the dose of alcohol you take and be more careful in choosing quality drinks. If you drink alcohol on a regular basis (at least 2-3 times a month), you must be examined by a doctor at least once a year to check liver function. Take care of your liver and it will take care of you for many years to come, so you will not have to worry about alcohol-related bruising.