Can Alcohol Cause Anemia?

Robert Gerchalk

Robert is our health care professional reviewer of this website. He worked for many years in mental health and substance abuse facilities in Florida, as well as in home health (medical and psychiatric), and took care of people with medical and addictions problems at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. He has a nursing and business/technology degrees from The Johns Hopkins University.

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Can Alcoholism Cause Anemia?

Alcoholism can cause many different health problems, including anemia. Anemia is a condition in which there are not enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues.

Alcoholism can cause anemia by several different mechanisms. First, alcoholics are more likely to have chronic gastrointestinal bleeding. This can lead to iron deficiency anemia. Alcoholics are also at increased risk for vitamin B12 and folic acid deficiency anemia. These deficiencies can occur because of poor diet, malabsorption, or liver damage.

Alcoholism can also cause hemolytic anemia, which is a type of anemia that occurs when red blood cells are destroyed faster than they can be produced. This can happen because of direct damage to the red blood cells by alcohol or because of liver damage that leads to impaired red blood cell production.

If you think you might have anemia, it’s important to see your doctor for a diagnosis. Anemia can cause fatigue, shortness of breath, and other symptoms. If left untreated, it can lead to serious health complications.

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