How can I reverse the affects of alcohol on my blood vessels?
October 13, 2011 4:11 AM   Subscribe

For the past two weeks I've been consuming large amounts of alcohol (mostly beer and wine, but also soju). After I first started drinking, I noticed a bump in a blood vessel in my right forearm. These bumps have now appeared along the rest of my forearm (that same vein). They feel like bruises. I'm pretty sure something is getting clogged up in there. I can stop drinking, but what can I do to get my blood flowing normally again?

If you want a back story, I'm in Korea and I'm hanging out with people in their 30s and 40s who drink all night. They're great people who just drink a lot (and it's also a big part of the culture here). I'm not legally allowed to drink in the US so my experience is almost nonexistent. I've found that I don't get drunk easily, but this plumbing problem in my right forearm is starting to worry me.

What can I do to mitigate and reverse the clogging? Drink lots of water? Get some exercise? I'm afraid that intense physical activity will cause this thing to burst, which would be annoying. And, while most people I've showed it to say it's nothing, I know they're not doctors and it just comes down to me ignoring the problem. Anyway, I have finally decided to stop drinking for now.

Also, my right shoulder and upper back have been hurting (not quite soreness, but just pain inside) since yesterday. Could be unrelated, but all I've been doing is sleeping, drinking, and eating.

I'm sorry if there's an obvious answer to this. It's just that Googling turns up a variety of disease-related hits that are unrelated to me (or maybe not) and difficult to sift through. I was never taught anything about alcohol so if any seasoned drinkers have something to say about this I'd appreciate it.

Thanks for your time.
posted by jykmf to Health & Fitness (15 answers total)
It's certainly not a normal response to alcohol. It may even not be a response to alcohol at all. Whatever advice you get in this thread, the one thing you'll hear repeated, and should listen to, is to go to the doctor. You're either ignoring something important or worrying about nothing. Either way a doctor is the person to see.
posted by howfar at 4:20 AM on October 13, 2011 [7 favorites]

Alcohol is metabolized and eliminated; it does not form lumps in your forearm. Please, go see a doctor.
posted by ellF at 4:22 AM on October 13, 2011 [10 favorites]

Whoa, yeah, please go to the doctor today.
posted by something something at 5:05 AM on October 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

Something along your veins + shoulder pain could very well be symptoms of kidney dysfunction. Go to a doctor.
posted by xingcat at 5:19 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

It doesn't sound likely to be related to your alcohol intake, I think that is just a confounding variable.

I also can't help but add that shoulder pain is not a typical symptom of kidney dysfunction, so please disregard that comment above.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 5:37 AM on October 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

Most younger doctors speak passable English so go. I don't know if you're working here or are a tourist, but trust me, it won't break the bank. I had to go to a GP before my insurance kicked in and it was something like 15000 won for the visit and 5000 for the prescription.

If you let us know, we might be able to direct you to a clinic.
posted by kathrynm at 5:55 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

I am "a seasoned drinker" and I have never had anything happen to me like you describe regardless of my state of inebriation. You also say that you asked a bunch of people locally but you cannot know if they are right because they are not doctors yet you are asking anonymous people on the interwebs? Go see a real doctor.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:16 AM on October 13, 2011

xingcat, why should I or anybody else take that website seriously? Have you looked at it?

OP, it could be absolutely anything (yes, including referred pain from something abdominal, but nothing is definite). The only way to find out is to see a doctor who can do a full examination and ask you about everything that you've been doing recently that might have caused this. It doesn't seem likely that drinking caused it, but you never know.
posted by altolinguistic at 6:22 AM on October 13, 2011

The pain in your shoulder might be from trigger points made worse by hangovers. The vein thing could beGO TO A DOCTOR NOW!!
posted by Not Supplied at 6:54 AM on October 13, 2011

xingcat, at the risk of starting a parallel conversation (but for the benefit of anyone who might be concerned their shoulder pain is coming from their kidney), pyelonephritis is typically manifested with flank pain, not shoulder pain. Gotta be careful when you're using Dr. Google - I recommend looking at reliable sites like eMedicine, Mayo Clinic, or the NIH. Sometimes people feel referred pain from kidney stones radiating to their shoulders, but that's a lot less likely than other causes of shoulder pain, especially without the other typical symptoms that go along with either a kidney infection (fever, pain with urination) or kidney stones (flank pain, groin pain, blood in urine). As we say in medicine, when you hear hoofbeats, think of horses, not zebras. I've only been practicing for 5 years, but I've never seen a pyelonephritis with shoulder pain, and I usually treat at least one pyelo per week.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 7:51 AM on October 13, 2011 [4 favorites]

2 cents from a medical student, who agrees that you should see a doctor. I'm having trouble understanding the symptoms that you're describing, but it sounds like you've been drinking a lot, and sleeping very little. My advice would be to lay off the sauce, get some sleep, cad go get your arm lumps checked out by a doctor. And don't feel like you need to match your new friends drinking - there are plenty of ways to get out of it, including mentioning that you are concerned about your health and/or aren't feeling well.
posted by abirae at 8:52 AM on October 13, 2011

(a) Get thee to a doctor.

(b) You say they feel like bruises--could they be bruises? Or some other result of trauma? As a seasoned drinker, I can say that many an ache and pain that turns up the day after drinking is directly related to bumping into stuff. Stuff you usually don't remember bumping into. It'd be unusual to have something be so specific to one part of your, but maybe you're hitting your forearm against the table after doing shots or the like?

(c) The doctor. Really.
posted by looli at 7:50 PM on October 13, 2011

* your body
posted by looli at 7:51 PM on October 13, 2011

obviously go to a doctor. But I would also start today taking 75mg aspirin once a day, just in case of blood clots - minimal bleeding risks, and huge benefits.
posted by nickji at 2:29 AM on October 14, 2011

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