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On average Australians drink 2.3 standard drinks per person per day according to the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education. This not only places one in five people at risk of an alcohol-related disease or injury, but it also impacts on how they are likely to recover from any health complication, particularly spine surgery. A recent study by the Loyola University in Chicago has looked at the link between alcohol use and wound healing. Researchers report that although health experts may have long suspected that alcohol inhibits healing, exactly why was not so clear.

It has now been proven that repeated exposure to alcohol, particularly at binge levels, reduces the levels of certain components of the immune system essential to healing. Drinking large amounts of alcohol reduces the amount of white blood cells called macrophages that chew up the bacteria and debris. Proteins that aid in closing a wound are also fewer in number with the more alcohol consumed. As a result, infections are more likely to occur through bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus.

Apart from the detrimental effect on the healing process, alcohol and drugs can severely disrupt the proper functioning of medications and create a dangerous cocktail of substances in your body. You should definitely not drink alcohol when you are taking antibiotics or pain medication. For further information contact Dr Moloney and his staff.

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