Binge drinking can worsen serious medical conditions and delay wound healing.

The consumption of alcohol has long been a hot-button issue in the medical field. While some studies tout the benefits of drinking a few glasses of red wine each week, others encourage health-conscious people to abandon booze altogether. One fact that healthcare professionals can all get behind, however, is that putting down excessive amounts of spirits – an act often referred to as “binge drinking” – can cause or worsen serious medical conditions.

A 2013 study from the National Institute of Public Health at the University of Southern Denmark confirmed that binge drinking has a direct, negative impact on the post-surgical healing process. In simple terms, the report proved that “alcohol and surgery are a bad combination,” Bolette Pedersen of the Clinical Health Promotion Center at Denmark’s Bispebjerg and Frederiksberg University Hospital told Reuters. A 2014 study from Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine reaffirmed these findings, concluding that “binge alcohol exposure significantly reduced levels of key components of the immune system involved in healing.”

Here are a few reasons you should avoid alcohol throughout the wound healing process:

Heavy drinking can impact the immune system
The immune system is essential to all healing processes, and wound recovery is no exception. For skin to regenerate and healthy tissue to form, the immune system needs to be strong, healthy and uncompromised. Consuming alcohol in large quantities, however, can damage the immune system, leaving the door open for complications and infections.

Heavy drinking can increase the risk of bleeding
Marie Eliasen, a medical professional at the National Institute of Public Health at the University of Southern Denmark and lead author of the 2013 study, explained to Reuters that binge drinking can expand the risk of bleeding and decelerate the healing process. These can occur because alcohol can increase endocrine stress responses, which in turn can reduce blood coagulation and prevent total healing.

Heavy drinking can impair judgment
Consuming alcohol can lower your inhibitions and impair your judgment. As such, it poses a risk to patients whose bodies are still in the often delicate period of wound healing. A small tumble or bump due to intoxication can be extremely counterproductive to your health, especially when your body is working hard to deliver you to a full recovery.

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