Back to top Be honest with your healthcare providers about how much alcohol you drink. If you get a headache, nausea (feel like you’re going to throw up), increased anxiety, or can ’t sleep after you stop drinking, tell your doctor right away.
Regularly drinking too much can affect different organs in your body, including your liver, your pancreas, your heart and your immune system. The effects on your liver and immune system directly affect your body’s ability to heal, which are particularly important after an operation.
You’re also more likely to have a longer stay in hospital, and be admitted to intensive care if you drink heavily before your surgery. In these people, benefits have been seen when they’ve stopped drinking altogether for at least a few weeks before surgery.
Drinking low to moderate levels of alcohol is unlikely to increase your risk of complications after surgery. The UK government advises that you shouldn’t regularly drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week.
Fourteen units is the equivalent of six pints of average-strength beer, or six medium (175 ml) glasses of average-strength wine. If you’re drinking more than you should, cutting down now may help to reduce your chance of developing complications after surgery.
Stopping drinking, or reducing your alcohol intake before surgery, is a big part of ‘enhanced recovery’. This is an approach aimed at helping people recover as quickly as possible after major surgery.
This might include counselling or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and medication for withdrawal symptoms. Even if it’s not something your doctor has said is a particular problem, cutting down on alcohol is still something you might want to do as a part of a wider effort to get fit and healthy before your surgery.
It can be hard changing our habits, but most people feel better within a week of stopping drinking. Iqbal U, Green JB, Patel S, et al. Preoperative patient preparation in enhanced recovery pathways.
www.rcoa.ac.uk, published February 2020 Tennessee H, Nielsen PR, Lauren JB, et al. www.rcoa.ac.uk, accessed August 2020 Eliasen M, Grønkjær M, Skov-Ettrup LS, et al. Preoperative alcohol consumption and postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
Doi:10.1093/ejcts/ezy301 Hold JIM, Pedersen B, Miller AM, et al. Perioperative alcohol cessation intervention for postoperative complications. Doi:10.1002/14651858.CD008343.pub3 UK Chief Medical Officers’ low risk drinking guidelines.
GOV.UK, published August 2016 UK alcohol unit guidance: CMOs' low risk drinking guidelines. www.drinkaware.co.uk, accessed August 2020 Wainwright TM, Gill M, McDonald DA, et al.
ACTA Orthopedic 2020; 91(1):3-19. Doi:10.1080/17453674.2019.1683790 Edelman DT, Ali WB, Williams JB, et al. We believe that trustworthy information is essential in helping you make better decisions about your health and care.
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Gordon Muir, 52, is a consultant urological surgeon at The Renaissance Healthcare Clinic in Harley Street. A routine scan of my heart last year found no signs of fatty deposits, I am proud to say.
Look at the Mediterranean approach, where they have a glass or two of red wine with dinner; there's evidence this may have an anti-cancer effect and benefit the vascular system. Alcohol can be implicated with urological conditions such as erectile dysfunction or prostate problems.
But I see men who think they have a problem with their prostate as they are having to go to the lavatory in the night, but actually it's the three or four pints they had before bed that is the issue. Dr Claudia Bernat, 47, is a consultant psychiatrist at the Priory Hospital, London.
It attaches on to the same receptor in the brain as Valium, and the reason doctors are so unwilling now to prescribe that drug is because it's so addictive. People don't recognize how potentially dangerous it can be, so I am very much in favor of warnings on alcohol bottles.
The liver is like skin: when you damage it, it recovers well; but if you do it again and again, it might scar, which can lead to cirrhosis. Excess drinking can also damage the immune system, making people more susceptible to infections such as pneumonia and tuberculosis.
William McCrea is a consultant cardiologist at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon, 58, and lives in Oxfordshire. Two small glasses of red wine a day are good for you in terms of preventing heart disease.
Antioxidants are good in general, but moderation is key: while two units a day gives you the optimal benefits, if you go up to four, it's bad news. I welcome the fact that Public Health England is addressing the issue of the dangers of alcohol and I look forward to seeing the evidence for not drinking two days in a row.
Rick Miller, clinical and sports dietitian, based at the Viewpoint club in London Rick Miller, 29, is a registered clinical and sports dietitian, based at the Viewpoint club in London.
Not drinking on consecutive days is good because of the time it takes for alcohol to clear the body (one unit an hour). Dr Guy Meadows, 37, author of The Sleep Book, is married with two children and lives in north-west London.
I deliberately limit my consumption as I worry about the short and long-term health effects of alcohol. And drinking alcohol close to bedtime is not good for sleep quality and can make you forgetful and moody the day after.
I think any suggestion that helps people moderate their alcohol consumption is a good thing. Dr STEPHEN RYDER, 52, is a consultant hepatologist at BMI Park Hospital in Nottingham.
This morning I did my ward round of 28 beds and more than half had people with a terrible variety of diseases brought on from alcohol. I don't drink in the week and have maybe a glass or two of white wine on a Friday and Saturday with dinner.
What matters is how much alcohol your liver sees in total. If people don't exceed the recommended limits, they should be able to avoid damaging their health through their drinking. Yes, there are health benefits from alcohol, but I think they are slightly overplayed, and these come about only from having very small amounts of drink.