mysterious bruising
July 11, 2006 2:39 PM   Subscribe

After heavy nights of drinking I always end up with mysterious bruises on my inner upper arms and sometimes even my inner thighs.... It looks like I was grabbed and I know that I was not....what is this all about?

This happens all the time when I drink. I can't figure out why. I thought that maybe it was from the unerwire in my bra when I passed out fully clothed but last time this happened I wasn't wearing a bra....and that doesn't explain the leg bruises. Could this have something to do with the way my body reacts to lots of booze. I don't think that it has to do with me being rough... Does this happen to anybody else?
posted by godaweful to Health & Fitness (28 answers total)
 
Not to be all Lifetime Movie of the Week on you or anything, but is it possible someone's having intercourse with you when you're passed out?
posted by headspace at 2:41 PM on July 11, 2006


IANAD, but here's my thought: The liver plays a major role in the clotting process, so it would seem likely that heavy drinking would tend to make you more susceptible to bruising from very minor injuries (even just lightly bumping into something). Do you usually bruise more easily than most people, even when you're not drinking?
posted by cerebus19 at 2:49 PM on July 11, 2006


...or aliens. gotta blame the aliens :)

but seriously - perhaps you are a little clumsy when in a heightened state of intoxication. Hit your arms and/or legs when getting out of the back seat of a taxi, and stumbling on the furniture when at home.
posted by seawallrunner at 2:49 PM on July 11, 2006


Alcohol thins the blood, causing bruising. So does ibuprofen, so if you're taking it for the hangover, you will get even more bruising.
posted by unknowncommand at 2:54 PM on July 11, 2006


Oh, and when I take a bunch of ibuprofen, I get bunches of little bruises on my arms as well (sometimes in a grabbing pattern), though I can't tell from your post if yours are connected/big.
posted by unknowncommand at 2:59 PM on July 11, 2006


Yeah, I'm a guy who gets mysterious bruises, you can rule out the bra. ;)

I assume it's a combination of drunken clumsiness, drunken forgetfulness, and the drunken anaesthetic effect.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:07 PM on July 11, 2006


Gotta love DRIs (Drinking Related Injuries). For most of us, our pain tolerance is greatly raised while drinking. Thus, if you bump into something hard enough to cause a bruise, you may not even notice that you did it until you wake up the next day. I've gotten plenty of injuries back in my college days that didn't even phase me at the time but proved quite painful (and noticeable) the next day.
posted by galimatias at 3:23 PM on July 11, 2006


That's odd. It's never happened to me, but I would think that if you were randomly bumping into things while drunk you'd be bruising the outsides of your arms and legs, not the insides.

I think it warrants medical advice. If you're a student just hit up the campus clinic, or call a Dial-A-Nurse line in your area. Or mention it the next time you see your MD. A real medical opinion can't hurt.

Also, not to make you paranoid, but how do you "know" you haven't been grabbed? If you're passed out, you don't know unless you have a trusted, sober friend watching out after you. Just be careful out there :)
posted by christinetheslp at 3:52 PM on July 11, 2006


Do the bruises on the inside of your legs line up with the toilet seat? Ever stumble drunk into the bathroom and just kind of fall down on it instead of gracefully seating yourself?
posted by pieoverdone at 4:02 PM on July 11, 2006


Also, the inner upper arms generally matches up with falling into the doorframe on the way to falling onto the john.
posted by pieoverdone at 4:03 PM on July 11, 2006


Whoa, I get these occasionally too, mostly on the side of my upper-arm/bicep that rests against my body.

I've always chalked it up to a drunken stumbling, although on more than one occasion, I've been unable to think of anything I'd done that might've caused it (although, uh, I'm not particularly surprised that I've forgotten.)
posted by fishfucker at 4:13 PM on July 11, 2006


I get the bruises in the knee to thigh area, even when I'm not drinking, haven't had any kind of sex, and have no idea where they come from (My SO refers to them as marks from my Demon Lover and laughingly offers to exorcise the damned thing.) Bruising is a weird thing.

To the people who wonder if you could have been raped while you were passed out.. Um.. there would/should be ~other~ signs than just a couple of bruises on the inner thighs.
posted by Meep! Eek! at 4:13 PM on July 11, 2006


actually, instead of mostly on my arm, I should say *exclusively* -- any leg injuries are usually bike related or other, and I mostly can recall what caused them.

The inside arm injuries are small strawberries that don't really have any tenderness and remind me of like, varicose veins or something.
posted by fishfucker at 4:15 PM on July 11, 2006


It's called being blacked out and blue.

It happens all the time.
posted by dr. moot at 4:54 PM on July 11, 2006


You're way more likely to sort of run into something and not remember it (or think it wasn't that bad) when you're drunk, and then have bruises from it the next day. The strawberry effect you're describing is nearly exactly what I used to do to myself by clumsily opening cabinet doors whilst totally wasted.
posted by Medieval Maven at 5:37 PM on July 11, 2006


I think the answer has been given. I always think that mysterious post-boozing bruising is a sign that you've had a damned good night. Don't worry about it

Funny though... I often get 'em on my upper arms too.
posted by Decani at 5:59 PM on July 11, 2006


we called them UDBs in college - unidentified drunk bruises
posted by elvissa at 7:19 PM on July 11, 2006


This is related to the emergency room diagnosis of a PAFO common across Australia on a Friday night - pissed, and fell over
posted by bystander at 7:38 PM on July 11, 2006


I think the mechanism for the bruising described by godaweful is probably a little more common place:

During the day or two before the night of heavy drinking, she has activities which ordinarily would not cause observable bruising, but which still break tiny capillaries just below the skin. These "injuries" could result from as common and self-inflicted actions as crossing her arms, sleeping on her folded arms or leg, or being held while having normal sex. If she didn't drink, these bruises would be very, very minor, to the point of being unnoticeable, as the blood leakage from the broken capillaries would be negligible. But she does begin drinking, and experiences 2 common side effects of alcohol, namely slightly elevated blood pressure and reduced clotting action (sometimes exacerbated by loss of potassium, calcium and electrolytes due to diuretic effect of heavy drinking). The areas which she would not ordinarily notice as being bruised, now become visibly discolored, as a slightly greater volume of blood leaks into the underlying dermal layers, than would normally.
posted by paulsc at 7:50 PM on July 11, 2006


I used to bruise easily to begin with, and if I was drinking that made it ten times worse. I waitressed in a bar for a bit where management looked the other way if we drank as long as we weren't totally drunk. I ended up covered in bruises, to the point where several of my coworkers took me aside to ask if everything was okay or if my husband was hitting me.
I did a bit of experimenting and noticed that the slightest thing would bruise me if I was drinking, probably because of the whole thinning of the blood effect. There were several times after a coworker voiced their concerns that I'd have them just grab my arm normally, and then come back to check the area in a few hours. Sure enough, there would be a bruise that looked like I was grabbed somewhat violently instead of the casual way they did it. Consider too, strange as it may sound, that it could be simply the way you cross your legs or sit that causes bruising that wouldn't happen if you weren't drinking. Strangely, the bruising was worse when Jagermeister was my drink of the night rather than any other drink.
And if you're already anemic, that makes the bruising all that much worse/noticeable.
posted by Iamtherealme at 8:38 PM on July 11, 2006


I tend to cross my arms, then grab onto them and squeeze them when I'm drunk, I'm not sure why but maybe because I'm cold? I have ended up with bruises on the inside of my biceps before.
posted by fshgrl at 9:07 PM on July 11, 2006


Oh and if I'm really cold I'll rub my upper legs too, so I guess that could bruise. If you tend to drink on outdoor patios sans coat or have a long taxi wait or walk maybe you're doing something similar.
posted by fshgrl at 9:09 PM on July 11, 2006


Unidentified Party Injuries.

Happens to me all the time, never really knew why before now. Bicep/upper arm and thighs for me as well.

I'm a dude, if that matters.
posted by slimepuppy at 3:40 AM on July 12, 2006


Also, for me at least, the fatty tissue on the inside of my arms and thighs is pretty similar. Maybe this kind of area has more delicate capillaries?
posted by unknowncommand at 5:14 AM on July 12, 2006


To the people who wonder if you could have been raped while you were passed out.. Um.. there would/should be ~other~ signs than just a couple of bruises on the inner thighs.

Not necessarily, and I'm glad people raised the question because if they hadn't, I would have. It's a scary possibility but one that should be considered from the description.
posted by agregoli at 7:46 AM on July 12, 2006


I would bet on two factors related to drinking.

First, alcohol causes much greater blood flow to the skin and the extremities; by report, hobos used to call heavy drinking on a cold night 'putting on the Tokay blanket' -- that is, the ones who didn't die from the resulting hypothermia called it that. Second, when you drink a lot, you don't move around in your sleep nearly as much as you do sober, and that means you don't relieve all the pressure points which result from sleeping too long in one position.

'Bruising' results when some of the larger than normal blood volume leaks out into subcutaneous tissues in areas where it pools, and it pools in areas just upstream of the pressure points you would normally resolve by turning over.
posted by jamjam at 11:34 AM on July 12, 2006


fshgrl: Sounds like you need a hug?

I remember seeing a PBS or Discovery Channel show that was a nature show about humans. It talked about humans and crying, and that the reason people often times cross their arms tightly is to, basically, give themselves a hug to try and make themselves feel better.

This could be total BS, but never the less seemed interesting enough to throw out there.
posted by jeversol at 12:46 PM on July 12, 2006


I get these, too. I discovered who the culprit was when one morning I woke up actually clutching my upper arm. I don't have to have been drinking for this to occur, either.
posted by frecklefaerie at 1:51 PM on July 12, 2006


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