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Heavy Drinkers Beware: Alcohol-Induced Rhabdomyolysis Dangers

heavy drinking

As an alcohol treatment center in Philadelphia, we know that while many people can easily get carried away with their drinking and the consequences can be severe.

Instances of binge drinking and long-term alcoholism both come with a series of possible health problems, including alcohol-induced rhabdomyolysis.

What Is Rhabdomyolysis?

Rhabdomyolysis is a syndrome that is characterized by the breakdown of muscle tissues that leads to the release of toxic chemicals into the bloodstream. In particular, the protein myoglobin is released into the blood and can lead to serious and lasting damage to the kidneys. About 26,000 cases of rhabdomyolysis are reported each year in the United States.1 Early diagnosis and treatment may lead to a full recovery, but if neglected and in extreme circumstances, rhabdomyolysis may lead to death.

Possible causes of rhabdomyolysis include:

  • Traumatic injury
  • Overexertion of muscles
  • Long periods of immobility
  • Hyperthermia, heatstroke, or third-degree burns
  • Some viral infections or disease
  • Alcoholism or drugs

What Causes Alcohol-Induced Rhabdomyolysis?

Through a combination of different factors, rhabdomyolysis from alcohol is one of more common causes of rhabdomyolysis. Alcohol is believed to lead to rhabdomyolysis for a few different reasons.

One such factor is from alcohol-induced coma or immobilization. Heavy or binge drinking can cause someone to become unconscious and immobilize them for extended periods of time. In turn, this could lead to alcohol-induced rhabdomyolysis. 2

Another contributing factor to alcohol-induced rhabdomyolysis may be because of how alcohol affects electrolyte and pH levels in the body. Long-term alcohol abuse can lead to more dramatic disturbances in these levels that may eventually lead to alcohol-induced rhabdomyolysis.2 Because alcoholism could lead to this problem, early admittance into a PHP, IOP, or other treatment program could help prevent this problem from occurring.

Signs of Alcohol-Induced Rhabdomyolysis

The sooner rhabdomyolysis is diagnosed and treated, the greater the chances of a full recovery. If ignored, alcohol-induced rhabdomyolysis may cause irreversible damage or lead to more serious health complications.

Signs of alcohol-induced rhabdomyolysis include:

  • Urine that appears dark or red in color
  • Muscle swelling
  • Weak or sore muscles
  • Stomach pain or nausea
  • Fever
  • Loss of consciousness if severe

If you or someone you care about is exhibiting these symptoms of alcohol-induced rhabdom rhabdomyolysis, seek medical attention immediately. Treatment for rhabdomyolysis usually involves an IV. In more serious cases, dialysis or surgery may be required.

At Banyan Philadelphia, we help people battling alcohol and drug problems find lasting sobriety. If you or someone you care about have a problem with substance abuse, do not wait until serious problems arise to get help.

To get more details on our various programs and to speak with an intake coordinator, call us today at 888-280-4763.

Sources & References:

  1. American Family Physician - Rhabdomyolysis
  2. NCBI - Nontraumatic rhabdomyolysis with short-term alcohol intoxication – a case report

Alyssa who is the National Director of Digital Marketing, joined the Banyan team in 2016, bringing her five-plus years of experience. She has produced a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. Through strategic marketing campaign concepts, Alyssa has established Banyan as an industry leader and a national household name.