Consumption of Alcohol Could Delay Wound Healing

Alcohol Could Delay Wound HealingThe consumption of alcohol hinders the wound healing process. It also has the capability of increasing the risk of infections in the hospital including surgical site infections. A study conducted by researchers from the Loyola University Health System found that binge alcohol exposure decreases the number of macrophages in the body, a type of white blood cells that engulf and digest cellular debris, foreign substances, and microbes. The study also found that heavy drinking weakened the production of a protein (macrophage inflammatory protein-1 alpha, or MIP-1α.) that helps recruit macrophages to the wound site. It also reduced the levels of another key component of the immune system known as CRAMP (cathelicidin-related antimicrobial peptide) a type of small protein that is present in the outermost layer of the skin, the epidermis. They kill bacteria and recruit macrophages and other immune system cells to the wound site. In fact, these effects can lead to delayed wound closure and enhanced infection severity.

For the study, the researchers performed laboratory experiments on mice to examine the effect of binge drinking on the body’s ability to properly heal the wounds. Half the number of mice was given alcohol in an on/off pattern that mimicked periodic participation in alcohol binges and the remaining mice were not exposed to alcohol. All of these mice received wounds designed to mimic serious injuries to the skin. The researchers then compared the wound-healing rate in the alcohol-exposed mice to the rate in the mice not exposed to alcohol. The outcome was that the wounds in the alcohol-exposed mice healed much more slowly than those not exposed to alcohol.

Why You Should Avoid Alcohol throughout the Wound Healing Process

  • Alcohol Consumption Can Impact the Immune SystemA healthy immune system can improve the body’s ability to heal by reducing the risk of infection. It is essential for all healing processes and wound recovery. In fact, the immune system needs to be strong, healthy and uncompromised for skin to regenerate and healthy tissue to form. However, too much alcohol consumption could damage the immune system, thus leaving the door open for complications and infections.
  • Heavy alcohol use can increase the risk of bleedingConsuming alcohol in large quantities can expand the risk of bleeding and slow down the healing process. This is because alcohol consumption increases the endocrine stress responses, which in turn reduces blood coagulation and compromises proper healing.
  • Consuming alcohol can impair your judgmentAlcohol consumption can lower your inhibitions and impair your judgment. It also poses a risk to patients whose bodies are in the delicate period of wound healing. Drinking alcohol can be extremely counterproductive to your health, particularly when the body is working hard to bring about a full recovery.

It has been proven that drinking alcohol is one of the reasons for delayed wound healing. So it is essential that the alcohol use status of a patient is assessed and documented. A reliable woundcare EHR system would facilitate wound care documentation and better provision of appropriate care.