April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and at Carter BloodCare, we think it is the perfect time to advocate a healthier lifestyle. Anyone who has given blood knows that you cannot donate if you are under the influence of alcohol, and you shouldn’t consume alcoholic beverages in the 12 hours following your donation. But beyond that, how much of an influence does alcohol have on our blood and blood health?
According to the Mayo Clinic, drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure to unhealthy levels. Ingesting more than three drinks in one sitting temporarily increases blood pressure. However, excessive alcohol consumption can have long-term effects on the blood and the heart.
In addition to long-term damage, there are many short-term effects alcohol has on the body. While under the influence, people are affected by loss of judgment, impaired motor coordination, distorted vision and hearing, and in some cases anemia. While these outcomes wear off once the alcohol has left your system, if you have donated blood and drink alcohol, your body is more susceptible to these dangers.
After giving blood, it is important to follow the post-donation guidelines including to avoid drinking for at least 12 hours following your donation. Taking care of your body while it works to replenish nutrients and blood cells is essential to the blood donation process. Alcohol dilates the blood vessels, which causes less blood to be available to circulate to the brain. This can lead to dizziness and fainting and be harmful to you in the long-term.
During Alcohol Awareness Month, our goal is not to tell people they need to abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages. Instead, we want to encourage everyone to take proactive steps to be in control of their health. If you have any concerns, speak with your doctor.