How Does Alcohol Affect Varicose Veins?

Written By Center for Vein Restoration
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Excess alcohol consumption has numerous ill effects, including declining vein health.

Excessive alcohol consumption has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. But did you know it also damages your veins? Although drinking will not cause varicose veins, it can aggravate the pain and swelling of swollen veins if you already have the condition. Alcohol may increase your chances of developing varicose veins if you have certain risk factors, such as obesity, a family history of the condition, or a sedentary lifestyle.

Moderate drinking will likely not harm your veins. So, you’re safe to sip your favorite beer or hard seltzer with your Texas barbeque this summer. Anything more than one daily drink, however, may aggravate your veins.

How Alcohol Affects Varicose Veins

First, it’s good to know what constitutes moderate or heavy drinking. For men, moderate alcohol consumption is defined as two drinks a day containing 14 grams of alcohol. For women, it’s one drink per day. That translates to 12 ounces of beer with a 5-percent alcohol content, a 5-ounce glass of wine with 12 percent alcohol, or 1.5 ounces of 40-percent hard liquor.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, excessive drinking would be classified as four drinks daily or more than 14 in a week for men. Women would need to consume three alcoholic drinks per day or more than seven in a week to be considered a heavy drinker.

So what effect does imbibing too much have on the veins? It impacts your veins in two significant ways: first, too many drinks increases blood pressure (how fast blood moves in the veins), which itself is bad for your veins and circulation. But when you have varicose veins, blood pumping faster through the veins can overwhelm already strained vein valves tasked with pumping blood back to the heart.

Unable to keep up with the sped-up blood flow, the vein walls expand, leading to more swelling and pain. The situation is made even more dire because your leg veins are farthest from the heart and therefore deal with the greatest force of gravity. Even healthy veins struggle to move this excess of blood. It’s even more of a burden when weak valves combat both high blood pressure and gravity, leading to swollen veins.

Another factor is alcohol’s effect on the liver, whose primary function is to weed out toxins like alcohol in your blood. Too many drinks flooding the liver makes it more difficult to cleanse the blood. The blood then becomes thicker as it circulates through the veins. Combined with high blood pressure, already-strained veins cannot handle this surge of thicker blood, causing varicose veins to protrude and ache even more.

Fortunately, with the summer nearly here, you can safely plan on enjoying an outdoor cookout accompanied by a glass of your favorite alcoholic beverage. Chances are, if you drink moderately, your varicose vein symptoms won’t worsen. Keep in mind the limits mentioned above, and you can imbibe responsibly without harming your veins.

Take Care of Your Veins

Center for Vein Restoration offers a full array of services, from minimally invasive surgical procedures to non-surgical methods to improve your vein health. CVR has two offices in the Austin area led by Dr. Aditya Gupta, MD, RPVI, D-ABVLM. He completed an Internal Medicine Residency at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (Bronx) and was Fellowship trained in Venous and Lymphatic Medicine through the Center for Vein Restoration Fellowship Program. Contact him for a consultation at one of the offices below:

7900 Farm to Market Road 1826

Building 1

Suite 170

Austin, TX 78737

11111 Research Boulevard

Suite 201

Austin, Texas 78759

Find CVR Near You