If you're on prescription medications to thin your blood, you may have to undergo routine blood testing to monitor your INR level. INR stands for International Normalised Ratio, and it measures your blood's ability to clot. If your level is too high, you can develop significant and serious bleeds. If it is too low, you may have a stroke or pulmonary embolism. If you take your medications as prescribed and get your blood tests without fail, your levels should stay in a therapeutic range. However, there are some things, innocent mistakes, that can affect your levels and interfere with your medication.
Eating Certain Foods
Blood thinners work by inhibiting your blood's ability to clot. They do so by interacting with the vitamin K that's in your body. If you eat too many foods that are rich in vitamin K, you may develop a low INR. You should never consume more than 60 to 80 micrograms of vitamin K per day. Foods to avoid include avocados, spinach, mayonnaise and tuna packed in oil.
Your level may also fluctuate if you make any sudden changes to your diet because these changes will influence the amount of vitamin K in your body. If you suddenly start eating a lot of vegetables or lentils, you may experience fluctuations. Being unable to eat is also a concern. You should also be careful when you're returning to a normal diet after surgery or an illness that made it difficult for you to eat.
Drinking Alcoholic Beverages
Alcohol can cause your levels to go high because it affects the way substances, like blood thinners, are metabolized in the liver. For this reason, drinking too much alcohol can make your level dangerously high. Grapefruit juice and grapefruit have similar effects, which is why they should not be consumed while taking a wide range of medications.
Taking Vitamin Supplements
Vitamin supplements, such as chamomile, garlic, ginger, ginseng and Saint John's wort among others, can interfere with your medication. Always talk to your doctor about any over-the-counter medications and supplements that you take before taking blood thinners.
As you can see, there are several innocent mistakes that can make your INR level too high. Therefore, it's very important for you to keep all of your appointments and get your blood tested regularly. Your doctor has to closely monitor you while you're on blood thinners to prevent any undesirable, and possibly serious, side effects. Contact a business, such as Gulf Shores Family Medicine, for more information.