I have always wondered how can blood turn from liquid to solid when we bleed? And why it doesn't turn to solid inside our blood vessels?
In our blood there are tiny particles called clotting factors and platelets; their job is to form clots only when the vessel wall is damaged (when you are wounded). It was very surprising for me to know that we damage our vessels every time you scratch your hand, kick the ball or keep your arm on the armrest for a long time! Micro-bleeds form at the location of these unnoticeable injuries and clotting factors along with the platelets take care of these micro-bleeds. When some of these factors are lost or dysfunctional your body will not be able to fix these micro-bleeds and they will turn into bruises.
So, how does the alcohol affect this clotting mechanism?
- Alcohol directly affects bleeding factors. It has been proved that alcohol in moderate quantities directly affects these clotting factors and causes the blood to be thinner and easier to bruise.
- Alcohol depletes body storage of vitamins. Vitamin K and Vitamin C deficiencies directly affect your clotting mechanism by decreasing production of clot factors and making the platelets dysfunctional all this make you bruise easier.
- Some people have alcohol intolerance. Your body has a mechanism to get rid of the alcohol you drink this mechanism is consistent of two proteins called enzymes. These two enzymes work together to break down the alcohol. If you have less than normal concentration of these enzymes your body will not be able to get rid of the alcohol; it will accumulate in your blood and cause unpleasant reactions such as nausea, vomiting, your skin will turn red and you will feel bruises all over your body. This is a genetic condition and it is very common among people from Asia. The only way to avoid this unpleasant reactions is to avoid drinking alcohol.
- Allergies to other components of the alcoholic beverages. Sometimes the same symptoms as in alcohol intolerance may happened because of a reaction to something other than alcohol in an alcoholic beverage. This can be preservatives, chemical flavors or grains.
- Combining alcohol with some specific medications. For example birth control pills had a mild effect on clotting factors but if you are taking them in combination with alcohol this can intensify their effect and cause you to bruise.
- Long term alcohol abuse causes liver cirrhosis. Liver is the factory that produces almost all of the clotting factors. Cirrhosis means basically that a part of the liver became useless and not functional. This condition would greatly decrease clotting factor production leading to bruises.
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