Alcohol consumption in any form whether it is wine, hard liquor or beer can result in retention of fluid in your feet and hands, also referred as dependent or peripheral edema. Fluid accumulation tends to occur in your feet and hands due to the tendency of fluid to travel downhill. Initially, alcohol works as a diuretic resulting in dehydration. Due to dehydration, your body starts conserving fluids. The salty nuts or snacks such as chips, pretzels and fries you may consume with your drink may also contribute to the swelling of fingers and hands.
Why Are Your Fingers Swollen After Drinking?
Due to accumulation of alcohol in your blood, the release of ADH (anti-diuretic hormone)-which causes concentration of urine is inhibited. Without ADH, dilute urine is passed by your kidneys without normal quantity of sodium. As the level of alcohol falls, your body starts conserving fluids again. Since, your kidneys have eliminated dilute urine without sodium when your blood had high level of alcohol, your sodium levels have increased. Now your sodium to fluid ratio is imbalanced and since sodium causes retention of fluid, there is development of edema.
Your liver and swelling related to alcohol: According to estimates, greater than 2 million people in the USA have disease of liver due to excessive consumption of alcohol. Liver has a major role to play in maintaining health of the body, by making substances required by the body and metabolizing toxic substances hazardous to the body including alcohol. As the foods we drink and eat get digested and absorbed in the digestive tract, they finally get out of the intestines or get into the blood. After they reach the blood, they pass the liver, where hazardous chemicals get removed and the beneficial ones are passed further.
Drinking excessive alcohol damages liver cells and impairs their functional ability. This may hamper the ability of the liver to manufacture chemicals such as essential proteins and blood clotting factors. Moreover, the liver may no more be able to filter the toxic chemicals, resulting in accumulation of toxins in the body. Chronic and heavy drinking may result in scar formation in liver referred to as cirrhosis of liver, which deteriorates the organ slowly, and may require a transplant.
Why are your fingers swollen after drinking? When liver gets damaged, fluid from the blood vessels gets accumulated in the tissues. The fluid when accumulated in the abdomen is referred to as Ascites. People who abuse alcohol develop a large, protuberant, fluid-filled abdomen along with wasted legs and arms due to lack of activity and nutrition.
Your heart and swelling related to alcohol: Drinking excessive alcohol regularly may also cause weakening of the muscles of the heart. The symptoms of weakened heart are shortness of breath and feeling tired. Apart from this another symptom could be swelling in feet and hands because the heart is not able to pump enough amount of blood throughout the body.
Other Causes that may cause swelling: Swelling may occur due to several other conditions and drinking excessive alcohol may aggravate these conditions. Some of these conditions are kidney disease, infection, allergies, thyroid disease, blood clots and diabetes.
Long term, heavy consumption of alcohol may cause swelling in different body parts; however, in majority of the individuals, mild swelling of the body after an occasional drink may be due to snacking on salty treats such as chips, fries etc. with alcohol, which may cause retention of fluids and can give you a puffy look. Moreover, alcohol stimulates your appetite, as a secondary effect.
If you develop ongoing or severe swelling, whether you drink alcohol or not, you should get yourself evaluated you a physician.
What Can You Do About Your Swollen Fingers?
After discussing why your fingers swollen after drinking, let’s discuss what you can do about it.
Though you may think it to be illogical to consume more water while having edema, yet, it will help in flushing out the excess fluid and toxins from your body. However, you should only consume fluids, which have no sodium or have low amount of sodium, including plain water.
Avoid table salt and stay away from fast and processed foods that have high amount of sodium until the swelling in your legs, hands, and ankles goes away.
Some individuals may have more tendencies in comparison to others to retain fluid after alcohol intake. Females have a higher tendency to retain fluid than males. Moreover, consuming salty snacks with alcohol may increase your chances to develop swelling in the body.
Majority of the damage to the body caused by chronic and long term intake of alcohol is permanent. Taking diuretics is not usually effective for this type of edema as the underlying damage to the organs (liver and kidneys) is still present.
Furosemide drug is often utilized to treat edema of the brain due to its antioxidant effects.
However, the liver may still regenerate its functioning as far as it’s not damaged completely. Cases have been reported, where liver has regained optimal functioning, even after 3/4th of its cells were dead.
The initial step to treat swelling due to excessive alcohol consumption is to beat the habit and take diuretics to treat the edema. Then you make the kidneys and liver healthy by eating a healthy diet, consuming antioxidants and taking drugs to protect them.
If you have fingers swollen after drinking for greater than one day, visit your physician immediately. They may prescribe some OTC (over-the-counter) diuretics to decrease the edema. You can also take a natural remedy to treat fluid retention such as Capisette.