Have you ever wondered how substance abuse can cause complications in the human body? Or more specifically, how alcohol plays a role in the immune system? Alcohol has the potential for damage to the liver, brain, and heart, but did you know that alcohol affects your body right down to the blood cell? It’s true, and the toll that alcohol abuse has on the body can be detrimental.
Alcohol Abuse and Blood Cells
There are two different kinds of blood cells; white and red. White blood cells are essential for a body’s resistance to infection, and red blood cells are vital for energy and transporting oxygen. It is the bone marrow that is responsible for creating white and red blood cells. Alcohol abuse interferes with the bone marrow’s abilities to produce those cells, leaving a person tired, weak, and vulnerable to infection.
At the same time, excessive drinking can cause the destruction of both white and red blood cells. In addition, the bone marrow creates platelets which are responsible for blood clotting. Blood clotting is the reason that you stop bleeding when you get a bloody nose. This effect can put a person at risk for excessive bleeding and strokes.
Anemia And Other Illnesses Linked To Bone Marrow Suppression
Bone marrow suppression from heavy alcohol abuse can be linked to various diseases such as: Myelodysplastic Syndrome- which is characterized by mutated cells, Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria- or blood in the urine and is fatal to 50% of people who are diagnosed. Anemia is also a result of bone marrow suppression. Anemia is a low red blood cell count, and since red blood cells carry oxygen to a person’s organs, it should be cause for concern if you or someone you love abuses alcohol.
“Alcoholism probably is the leading cause of thrombocytopenia.” NIAAA In another study by the National Institutes of Health found that, of 30 different alcohol-dependent people brought in for detox, bone marrow damage was typical; however, it is reversible. With the proper treatment, this can be a thing of the past.
Symptoms Of Anemia–Low Red Blood Cell Count
- Pale Skin
- Shortness of Breath
- Fast Heart Beat
Symptoms of Leukopenia–Low White Blood Cell Count
- Fever and Chills
- Swollen Glands
Symptoms Of Low Platelets
- Bleeding Gums or Mouth
- Easy Bruising
- Tiny Red Spots on The Skin
A Closer Look At Alcohol Abuse
So what do we know about Alcohol Abuse? A person who abuses alcohol might drink alcohol daily and completely lose control each time, or only get drunk on the weekend. It doesn’t make a difference, they are both forms of alcohol abuse.
A study by Harvard University describes alcohol use disorder as “when a person’s drinking causes stress or harm.” In that same study, they reported that 10% of adult men and 5% of adult women have an alcohol use disorder. This gets pretty close to home for a lot of us, especially because alcohol is the second most abused drug in the United States and approximately 88,000 people die an alcohol-related death each year.
Treatment For Alcohol Abuse and Other Related Disorders
To paraphrase what the NIAAA had to say about bone marrow suppression, a person who abuses alcohol over a period of time can reduce blood cell counts and beat down their immune system response. If you are concerned about the adverse effects of alcohol and would like to know more about bone marrow suppression, we can help. There are 17 million people over 18 who struggle with alcohol addiction and abuse alcohol.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to us at Vertava Health, if you or someone you know may be struggling with a substance problem. We can get you the help you need. To speak to a person who can help, call anytime.