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Can Alcohol Cause Anemia?

man begins treatment at drug rehab center

Anemia is a condition in which the body does not produce enough functioning red blood cells to adequately deliver oxygen to organs and tissues.  Symptoms of anemia include chronic weakness and fatigue. Anemia can be caused by several factors, including nutrient deficiencies, disease-related inflammation, and bone marrow diseases.  Although not as well known, anemia can also be caused by alcohol abuse. Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol damages the body in many ways, such as causing issues with red blood cell production.  While alcohol-induced anemia is potentially temporary, someone with an addiction to alcohol will need to seek treatment to eradicate their symptoms of anemia.  Alcohol can cause anemia in a few different ways.  Heavy drinking has been linked to a decrease in red blood cell production, as well as the loss of existing red blood cells from damage to the heart, internal inflammation, and a lowered immune system.  The lifestyle commonly associated with alcohol addiction also adds to risk factors for anemia. People who drink heavily are less likely to prioritize nutrition, and may even skip meals entirely in favor of alcohol.  This behavior can lead to severe nutritional deficiencies. A poor diet can cause iron-deficiencies, folate deficiencies, and B-12 deficiencies that may all lead to anemia.

The Long-Term Consequences Are Grave

In addition to weakness and fatigue, anemia can cause chest pains, irregular heartbeat, headaches, and a yellow or pale skin tone.  Alcohol is commonly linked to cirrhosis of the liver, which may also be indicated by a yellowing complexion. This pallid appearance is a symptom of jaundice, which is also associated with anemia.  Additionally, alcohol-induced anemia can affect the body’s ability to form blood clots, which may lead to nosebleeds, chronic stomach ulcers, and stroke. The best way to prevent alcohol-induced anemia, or treat anemia that has already developed, is to seek professional treatment for substance abuse.  A holistic treatment program can address your physical health issues and deficiencies in tandem with your addiction.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, now is the time to reach out for help.  At Arbor Behavioral Healthcare, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals that understand addiction in all its forms.  We use an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues. No treatment is one-size-fits-all, and at The Arbor, you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan.  We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit so that you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness. If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us at 844-413-2690.