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Can Alcohol Abuse Cause Nosebleeds? by Rehab Recovery Centers

Alcohol is the most widely abused substance in the United States. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 85.6% of people ages 18 and older have consumed alcohol at some point in their lives and up to 6.3% of adults engage in heavy drinking each month.[1]

In moderation, drinking alcohol can be okay. It isn’t necessarily healthy, but drinking in moderation is less likely to hurt you or cause long-term damage. Alcohol abuse, however, or heavy drinking, can have a number of devastating temporary and permanent effects on the body. For example, alcohol abuse is widely known to cause problems with digestion, liver failure, and alcohol use disorder. There are many lesser-known side effects of alcohol abuse, too.

Heavy drinking interferes with your blood platelets. Platelets are the cells that help blood clot. When your platelets aren’t working correctly or you don’t have enough of them, your blood may not clot the way it is supposed to. As a result, heavy alcohol abuse can contribute to nocturnal nosebleeds or nosebleeds throughout the day.

What Causes Nosebleeds?

The inside of your nose is covered with mucosa, a delicate tissue containing thousands of blood vessels that lay just at the surface. This delicate tissue is easily irritated and even minor injuries can make the vessels bleed. If the vessels bleed a lot, a nosebleed can occur.

There are two main types of nosebleeds:[2]

  1. Anterior nosebleed – Bleeding begins at the front of the nose and blood flows out of the nose.
  2. Posterior nosebleed – Bleeding comes from the nasal septum which is the wall connecting the two sides of the nose. These are rarer, but also more serious.

There are many common causes behind nosebleeds, including:

  • A rapid change in humidity or climate
  • Colds or allergies
  • Chemical irritant exposure
  • Certain medications like blood thinners
  • Tissue injury

Other nosebleeds are caused by some kind of trauma to the inside of the nose, such as physical injury, persistent sinus infections, or foreign bodies lodged in the nasal cavity. Most nosebleeds can be treated easily at home by applying a cold compress or ice pack to the bridge of the nose. However, some nosebleeds require urgent medical attention.

Signs that a nosebleed requires medical attention include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pale skin
  • Fatigue or disorientation
  • Bleeding is coming from multiple areas
  • There has been a recent nasal surgery
  • There is a nasal tumor
  • Other symptoms like chest pain
  • Foul-smelling discharge

Regular, frequent nosebleeds also warrant a trip to the doctor.

How Is Alcohol Abuse Linked to Nosebleeds?

While drinking alcohol does not cause nosebleeds directly, frequent heavy drinking can increase the risk for nosebleeds. There are two reasons for this.

First, alcohol prevents the platelets in your blood from working correctly, resulting in poor blood clotting. When your blood doesn’t clot the way it is supposed to it becomes thinner, making it difficult to stop bleeding once it starts. Secondly, alcohol increases the size of the superficial blood vessels in your nasal cavity which makes your nostrils more prone to injury and excessive bleeding. These two factors combined make people who abuse alcohol frequently more prone to nosebleeds and more likely to experience severe bleeds requiring medical care.

Furthermore, alcohol dehydrates the body, and dehydration can increase the risk of nosebleeds while also decreasing activity of blood platelets. Heavy drinking can also increase blood pressure, and high blood pressure is often a contributing underlying factor for nosebleeds.

For reference, the NIAAA defines heavy drinking as drinking 5 or more alcoholic drinks for men or 4 or more alcoholic drinks for women on the same occasion.[3]

If you already experience frequent nosebleeds, heavy alcohol consumption can make them worse. Consider cutting back on your drinking habits and consulting with your healthcare provider to rule out any underlying causes.

How Common Are Alcohol-Induced Nosebleeds?

While drinking alcohol does not directly cause nosebleeds, the ways alcohol abuse affects your body and the cells in your blood can. Nosebleeds are a common cause of emergency room admission, and studies have actually tried to measure whether or not there is a relationship between nosebleeds and heavy drinking.

In one study, researchers did find an association between adults who engaged in heavy drinking and those who suffered nosebleeds. They found that people who suffered nosebleeds drank more alcohol and that people who drank more alcohol were more likely to be admitted to the emergency room for a nosebleed.[4]

Find Help for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Today

If you find yourself drinking more than you intended to, struggling to control or moderate your drinking, or experiencing symptoms of withdrawal when you stop, you may have an alcohol use disorder (AUD). Rest assured, you are not alone and evidence-based treatment is available. Up to 14.5 million people ages 12 and older struggle with alcohol use disorder, but anyone can recover with professional help.

Rehab Recovery Centers exist to provide you with comprehensive recovery resources including inpatient rehab centers, outpatient treatment programs, intervention services, and so much more. We can connect you with top-rated recovery centers in your area. Contact us today for a risk-free assessment or to locate a drug and alcohol rehab center near you.

References:

  1. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/alcohol-facts-and-statistics
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK435997/
  3. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/moderate-binge-drinking
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2541506/?page=1

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