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Alcohol Intake and Your Surgery

This information will help you understand how drinking alcohol can affect your surgery.

The amount of alcohol you drink can affect you during and after your surgery. It is important that you talk with your healthcare providers about your alcohol intake so that we can plan your care.

  • Stopping alcohol suddenly can cause seizures, delirium, and death. If we know you are at risk for these complications, we can prescribe medications to help prevent them.
  • If you use alcohol regularly, you may be at risk for other complications during and after surgery. These include:
    • Bleeding
    • Infections
    • Heart problems
    • Greater dependence on nursing care
    • Longer hospital stay

What We Will Do

We talk with all patients about their alcohol intake. Your healthcare providers will ask you about the amount of alcohol your drink every day. This includes beer, wine, and liquor. They will also ask you to answer the questions below, known as the CAGE questionnaire.

In the last year:
  • Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking?
  • Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
  • Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?
  • Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover (an eye-opener)?

What You Can Do

  • Be honest with your healthcare provider about how much alcohol you drink.
  • Try to stop drinking alcohol once your surgery is planned. If you develop a headache, nausea, increased anxiety, or cannot sleep after you stop drinking, tell your doctor right away. These are early signs of alcohol withdrawal and can be treated.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you cannot stop drinking.
  • Ask us any questions you have about drinking and surgery. As always, all of your treatment information will be kept confidential.