There are few things that are as disheartening as finding out that you have a serious health condition. All of a sudden, new rules, medications, and lifestyle modifications become your new normal. And while at some point everything may become second nature, there’s a learning curve while you get used to it. Such is the case when you’re taking blood thinners. You may have a general idea of what they are and what they do, but how else can they impact your life?
What are blood thinners?
When you’re injured and experience a cut, platelets in your blood stick to the walls of your blood vessels to form a barrier and prevent you from bleeding to death. However, if these solid clumps of platelets form when they aren’t needed, they can obstruct blood flow within your veins or arteries, which can result in a stroke or heart attack. This is called a blood clot.
To prevent clots from happening, medical providers prescribe medication known as blood thinners (also known as anticoagulants). They can be administered by injection or as pills.
Blood thinners do not make your blood thinner nor break up formed clots. What they do is prevent your blood from forming new clots, as well as slowing down the growth of existing ones.
Reasons for Needing Blood Thinners
There are several types of people who are most likely to benefit from taking blood thinners. These include those who have any of the following in their medical history:
- Heart disease
- Heart attack
- Having to wear a heart valve
- Irregular heartbeats
- Recent surgery
- A history of blood clots in their lungs or legs
- Being overweight or obese
- Deep Vein Thrombosis
Dangers of Blood Thinners
Blood thinners have several side effects, including:
- Nose bleeds
- Bleeding gums
- Heavy periods
- Excessive bleeding from cuts
- Blood in urine
- Blood in bowel movements
Due to the increased risk of bleeding, always tell your dentist you’re on blood thinners before undergoing dental cleanings or other oral treatments.
Foods To Limit Or Avoid When You’re On Blood Thinners
There are several foods that may interfere with the effectiveness of blood thinners. Therefore, you should always consult with your doctor about any required modifications to your diet. Typically, foods to limit include:
- Foods Rich in Vitamin K. These include leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, and broccoli, as well as asparagus and cabbage.
- Herbal Supplements. Common herbal supplements taken to help you sleep or as ingredients in tea include chamomile, ginseng, cloves, licorice, and echinacea.
- Alcohol. Your liver breaks down both alcohol as well as medications. If you drink while also taking blood thinners, the level of medication in your blood may be higher than it should be as your liver breaks down consumed alcohol.
Do blood thinners increase the risk of cancer?
There are different types of blood thinners. Some of them, such as Warfarin, may protect against breast, lung, and prostate cancers. However, studies are somewhat inconclusive and you should not take thinners as a preventive measure, since it could lead to health complications.
When to Go to the ER
Since blood thinners are specifically designed to keep platelets from clumping up, any time you suffer from an injury, you have a higher risk than the average person from experiencing internal bleeding or prolonged bleeding from cuts. Therefore, seek emergency medical attention if you’ve experienced any kind of trauma.
24-Hour Emergency Room Services in Colorado Springs and Texas
If you or a loved one have a medical emergency, we can provide the care you need. If you have questions or need immediate treatment, your nearest Complete Care location is ready to help, no matter the time of day or night. We offer a variety of services to help you and your family in your time of need. No appointments are necessary.
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