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Does Alcohol Affect Warfarin?

does alcohol affect warfarin

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Warfarin is a very common medication in the United States. But, people still need to be careful when taking it. It can react with a wide variety of foods and substances. And, with alcohol being one of the most widely-consumed substances in the country, adults wonder, “Does alcohol affect Warfarin?”.

To understand Warfarin, alcohol, and how they affect each other, it helps to take a look at them in more detail. This article will cover what Warafin is, how it works, its side effects, and how it combines with alcohol.

What Is Warfarin?

Warfarin is a class of medication known as an anticoagulant. Its purpose is to prevent blood clots in medical patients. Warfarin can either be taken as a short-term or long-term treatment. It’s usually prescribed short-term after surgical procedures. But, some patients may have to take it for the rest of their lives.

This is usually the case if they suffer from a condition like thrombosis. Deep vein thrombosis or DVT can cause repeated blood clots in a patient’s extremities. As a result, Warfarin is prescribed to help treat the clots. Warfarin may also be used as a treatment for atrial fibrillation.

How Warfarin Works

Anticoagulant medications are also known as “blood thinners”. This is because they prevent the blood from clotting. Warfarin does this by preventing Vitamin K from entering the bloodstream.

Medical professionals turn to Warfarin because it’s highly customizable. Doctors have to worry about a number called the INR (International Normalized Ratio). It’s easy for doctors to keep the INR within the acceptable range. This is because Warfarin doses are highly customizable.

Every patient’s goal INR is different. The number that’s right for you will depend on the nature of your blood. Some people’s blood will still clot while they’re taking blood thinners. If this happens, doctors will have to adjust their INR to prevent clotting.

If your INR is too low, your blood could be more likely to clot. If it’s too high, you may run the risk of bleeding more.

If you’re taking Warfarin, or any other blood thinner, it’s important to have your blood checked regularly. The purpose of these checks is to monitor your INR. Any sudden change in your INR could result in serious side effects like bleeding.

Warfarin and Food

Warfarin has been instrumental in saving lives. It’s saved a lot of people from life-threatening blood clots. The only downside to Warfarin is that people experience a lot of interactions with food and other drugs.

Doctors who prescribe Warfarin to their patients advise them to change their diet. If your doctor starts you on doses of Warfarin, they may tell you to start eating more foods that are high in Vitamin K. One of the best sources of Vitamin K is green, leafy vegetables. Examples would be spinach and kale.

Warfarin can also interact with standard medications like antibiotics. It’s important for patients to call their doctor if they have any changes in medication. It doesn’t matter if it’s a new prescription or an over-the-counter medication. The doctor should be made aware of it.

Changes in diet should be monitored, as well. If a person on Warfarin chooses to consume alcohol, they should do so with caution.

Does Alcohol Affect Warfarin?

If you’re wondering, “Does alcohol affect Warfarin?”, the answer is: it depends. It depends on what type of drinker you are. Occasional drinkers and habitual drinkers both experience the combination of alcohol and Warfarin differently.

Regular alcohol drinkers should be monitoring their INR. If you drink consistently, your INR could be lower. Normally, your Warfarin dosage can be adjusted to keep your INR within the goal range.

Regular drinkers also need to be careful if they decide to stop drinking. Stopping your alcohol consumption abruptly could also affect your INR. Without the alcohol in your system, your INR could increase. As a result, you’ll have a higher risk of dangerous blood clots. It’s important to discuss any change in alcohol consumption with your medical professional.

Individuals need to be careful if they don’t drink regularly, as well. If your body is not used to alcohol, and you consume it suddenly, it can affect your INR. Alcohol will cause your INR to spike and you’ll be at a higher risk of bleeding.

If you plan to drink at a special occasion, it’s important to communicate this to your doctor. If your doctor knows that you’re expecting a sudden increase in your alcohol consumption, they will make a point to monitor your INR afterward.

Why Does This Happen?

When people start researching, “does alcohol affect warfarin?”, they wonder why alcohol has the effect that it does. The reason is that alcohol can act as a “blood thinner” in its own way. It isn’t necessarily an anticoagulate, but alcohol does “thin out” your blood.

People might notice this if they get a cut while drinking at a party or celebration. You tend to bleed more than you normally would. This is because alcohol consumption decreases the number of platelets in your bloodstream.

Platelets are also known as red blood cells. And these cells are responsible for starting the blood clotting process. So, if someone is taking Warfarin, their body is already low in Vitamin K. If they consume alcohol, and reduce their platelet count on top of that, it can make them susceptible to serious bleeding issues.

Is Combining Alcohol and Warfarin Safe?

If your doctor currently has you on a prescription for Warfarin, it may be best to avoid consuming alcohol. Alcohol has a negative effect on your INR. It can also increase your risk of bleeding.

Whatever you decide to do, it’s important to inform your doctor. If you are working with an anticoagulation clinic, you should inform them as well. Keeping your doctor “in the loop” helps them to plan accordingly. Once you communicate with them they will make a plan to monitor your INR more closely to prevent serious complications.

Alcohol and Warfarin Don’t Mix

The answer to “Does Alcohol affect Warfarin?” is: Yes. But, it’s not that simple. Depending on who you are, and how often you drink, your experience combining alcohol and Warfarin is going to be different.

If you decide to consume alcohol while on Warfarin, you can always let your doctor know. The best thing to do, however, would be avoid alcohol consumption entirely.

If you need help to stop drinking, Just Believe Detox can help. Contact us today and we’d be more than happy to answer any questions or concerns you have.

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