How to Thicken Blood Before Surgery
Unusually thin blood can be a danger during surgery since it may not clot properly, leading to excessive bleeding and blood loss. If your blood is too thin, you might be able to help thicken it by making careful alterations to your diet, lifestyle, and medications.
Diet and Lifestyle
Alter your diet one to two weeks in advance.It can take days or weeks for the thickness of your blood to change due to dietary and lifestyle habits alone. Start making these changes as early as possible to maximize the potential impact they have on your blood.
- Talk to your doctor before altering your diet. They'll be able to give you specific instructions about any dietary changes you should make before your surgery.
- Preoperative instructions from your doctor may include not eating garlic, cayenne, flax seeds, green tea, tomatoes, eggplants, and potatoes. These foods can affect anesthesia and the thickness of your blood.
- You may also be asked to avoid foods that are known to cause allergies, like nuts, eggs, milk, fish, wheat, and soy.
Eat a well-balanced diet so you're getting enough vitamin K.Vitamin K plays an important role in maintaining a normal thickness of the blood. As long as you're eating a well-balanced diet, you should be getting enough vitamin K. Make sure your diet includes foods like:
- Leafy greens
Stop drinking alcohol.Alcohol tends to thin the blood and cause more bleeding to occur, so you should avoid consuming alcohol as much as possible at least one week before surgery.
- An occasional glass of wine or some other alcoholic beverage relatively low in proof may not necessarily cause much of a problem for someone whose blood has a normal consistency, but even that can cause adverse effects for someone whose blood is thinner than average. Your safest option is to avoid alcohol completely until after the surgery is over.
Keep yourself adequately hydrated.Proper hydration is an essential component of healthy blood. If you're dehydrated, the volume of blood pumping through your circulatory system can decrease, causing it to thin out have difficulty coagulating.
- Excessive hydration can also cause your blood to become too thin, however. As you drink more, more fluid enters into your blood, thinning it out.
- It's best to maintain standard, healthy levels of hydration prior to surgery to avoid complications. Try to consume eight 8-oz (250-ml) glasses of fluid each day.
Avoid salicylates.Salicylates blocks your body's ability to absorb vitamin K, thereby preventing your blood from thickening. It might be best to avoid foods high in salicylates so that your blood can more effectively benefit from the vitamin K you consume.
- Your doctor may have you stop taking aspirin 1 week before your surgery.
- Many herbs and spices are naturally high in salicylates. Some of the most notable include ginger, cinnamon, dill, oregano, turmeric, licorice, and peppermint.
- Certain fruits are also high in salicylates. It might be best to stay away from raisins, cherries, cranberries, grapes, tangerines, and oranges.
- Other foods rich in salicylates include chewing gum, honey, peppermints, vinegar, and cider.
- Some seasonings and foods high in salicylates are also high in vitamin K, and the two substances may balance each other out. Examples include curry powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, thyme, blueberries, prunes, and strawberries.
Control your vitamin E.Vitamin E is another substance that interferes with the body's ability to absorb vitamin K, but the effects are usually less pronounced than they are with salicylates, so you don't need to avoid vitamin E completely.
- A better option would be to simply avoid excess vitamin E while preparing for your surgery. Don't take vitamin E supplements and don't add any new sources of vitamin E to your routine.
- Some topical health and beauty products, like certain hand sanitizers, use vitamin E as a preservative. Check the ingredients and consider temporarily switching to a brand that doesn't include vitamin E.
- Most foods high in vitamin E contain just as much, if not more, vitamin K. Spinach and broccoli are two examples. As such, they generally won't thin the blood and don't need to be excluded from your diet.
Stay away from omega-3 fatty acids.Omega-3 fatty acids can thin blood and prevent clotting. Normal doses of omega-3 fatty acids will be safe to consume before surgery if you usually have healthy, adequately thick blood, but excess omega-3 should be avoided.
- You may also want to avoid omega-3 fatty acids if your blood tends to be thinner than usual.
- Fatty fish contains some of the largest doses of omega-3, so you might want to avoid salmon, trout, tuna, anchovies, mackerel, and herring.
- Fish oil capsules should usually be skipped completely while you're preparing for surgery since they contain concentrated doses of omega-3.
Avoid taking supplements unless they're approved by your doctor.Many common supplements can cause the blood to thin. Talk to your doctor about which supplements are OK to continue taking before your surgery. Some supplements you should avoid include:
- Ginkgo biloba
- Coenzyme Q-10
- St. John's wort
- Fish oil
- Vitamin C and E
Limit your exercise routine.Light to moderate exercise can still be beneficial before surgery, but you should avoid intense bouts of vigorous exercise at least one week in advance.
- Vigorous exercise can increase bleeding, lower vitamin K levels, and thin the blood.
- On the other hand, remaining stationary can also be bad for you. People who live stationary lifestyles run the risk of thickening the blood too much and developing blood clots.
- Your best option is to engage in light exercise several times throughout the week. For instance, you could try walking or jogging for 30 minutes, three to five days a week.
Consult with your doctor before making any changes.When preparing for surgery, you should discuss any changes you plan to make with your physician or surgeon beforehand. This includes changes to your diet, over-the-counter medications, and prescription medications.
- Bring all of your current routine medications to the surgery orientation. Your doctor should be able to tell you if any of these medications must be stopped or decreased before surgery.
- Note that blood can be either too thick or too thin, and neither option is particularly safe, especially when you have surgery. Thin blood won't coagulate properly, which may cause you to bleed excessively during the operation. Thick blood can lead to blood clots that may block arteries or cause related complications.
Don't take over-the-counter blood thinners.Some over-the-counter or herbal drugs can act as anti-coagulates. In other words, they cause your blood to become thinner. You should stop taking these drugs at least one week before your surgery to prevent your blood from thinning out.
- Aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (like ibuprofen and naproxen) are the biggest over-the-counter culprits.
- Herbal drugs that have a similar effect include vitamin E supplements, garlic supplements, ginger supplements, and ginkgo biloba.
Temporarily stop any prescription blood thinners.If you're currently taking prescription anti-coagulants (blood thinners), your doctor may recommend stopping those medications several days before your surgery. This can be the case regardless of whether or not those medications were originally prescribed for the sake of thinning your blood.
- The exact timing will vary depending on your specific circumstances, so youmustconsult with your doctor before stopping your prescriptions.
- Prescription blood thinners include warfarin, enoxaparin, clopidogrel, ticlopidine, dipyridamole, and alendronate. Prescription dosages of aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are also included.
QuestionEvery time something touches me or I hit myself on something, there is blood under my skin. I do not know what to do, and my arms and hands look like someone beat me up. Any suggestions?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou need to seek medical help, as you may have a blood clotting problem.Thanks!
QuestionWhat happens if my blood is too thin during surgery? Is this a serious danger?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt is indeed. There's a higher risk of losing more blood and/or making the operation harder on the surgeon.Thanks!
QuestionWhat should I eat to thicken my blood?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can't do that, but you can make it have a higher proportion of red blood cells with a diet higher in iron.Thanks!
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- Always discuss changes to your medications, diet, or lifestyle with your doctor, especially when done prior to surgery. Your doctor should be familiar with your medical history, so he or she will have a better understanding of your specific needs and can instruct you more safely and effectively.
- Avoid all food and drink eight hours before surgery. This includes food and drink that can help thicken your blood. Having food or fluid in your digestive system at the time of surgery can lead to complications, and your surgeon will likely force you to reschedule the operation rather than risking a problem.
- Depending on the circumstances, your doctor may allow you to continue taking certain medications prior to surgery. Stop taking any medication not approved by your doctor eight hours in advance, though. This even includes those with no direct link to blood consistency.
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