Matthew: I’ve noticed that when I drink, after a while I have to pee. And maybe I’m imagining this. After a real short time, I have to pee again. That goes on all night. A friend told me that’s called breaking the seal. He didn’t know how that worked. He just said if you’re drinking and you finally pee, for the rest of the night you’ll have to pee more often. Is that true? Why should that happen? What can I do about it? It’s annoying. — Need a Cure, via email
Ah, the joys of getting wasted. Nothing says fun like staggering back and forth to the bathroom all night. So, what’s going on? Just nature extracting its pound of flesh as the cost of your wastedness. So you crack your first beer. Your kidneys and bladder are humming along, doing their thing, unaffected by chemical interference. Urine is building up in your bladder at its usual rate, being held back by, let’s call it, sphincter 1, which is controlled by the hormone ADH (anti-diuretic hormone — a diuretic is something that makes you pee more often). You have no conscious control over sphincter 1. Drinking continues, urine builds up, blood alcohol rises and begins to mess with your ADH. The more you drink, the messier things get. ADH is no longer regulating urine production at normal rates; fluids are coming in from many parts of the body. At some point, sphincter 1 senses fullness and opens automatically. Urine pours into another part of the bladder, controlled by sphincter 2. This sphincter is under your control; you can respond to the full feeling or try to hold it. But eventually you gotta go.
So you go, your bladder shrinks, but alcohol is still messing with your ADH, and sphincter 1 doesn’t close completely. Now there’s nothing to stop urine from going directly into your bladder controlled by sphincter 2. Whoa! Gotta pee again. Thought I just did that, didn’t I? Whazzup? And on and on through the evening, as your blood alcohol rises and your bladder surrenders control. Your first pee in that scenario is colloquially referred to as “breaking the seal.”
Because your ADH is out of commission, urine is building up as a by-product of more than metabolizing alcohol. When you wake up the next day, what do you feel? Tired, nauseated, dizzy, headachy, and... And thirsty. That’s because alcohol, as a result of the ADH malfunction, is a diuretic. It makes you pee a lot. And what can we do about that? Either drink lots of water between beers to dilute the alcohol (which in the end will probably up your pee rate on its own), or stop drinking, maybe? That’s about it.
Matthew; Vampires are all the rage. I maybe want to be one since it really gets the girls. I have most of it planned out. I need to know if I can get by every day just drinking blood. Will that keep me healthy? — Ann Rice, downtown
Virgin? Extra virgin? Cold-pressed? What kind of blood are we talking, here? Okay, that’s just your question taken to absurd lengths. Doubt that we’ll see blood on the market shelves, even in those cutesy, obscure-victuals, boutique marketlets so popular now. I’m actually pretty amazed that I can find an answer to this one. And from reliable scientists, at that. First of all, one liter of human blood contains about 700 calories of energy. So right off the bat, you’re talking three liters a day, on average, to keep yourself upright. But you’ll be upright with scurvy unless you drink an additional six liters of blood a day. Since our bodies don’t make or store vitamin C and a liter of blood contains only 5mg of it, you’ll need to drink extra to make up the recommended 45mg/day requirement. Nine liters of blood a day contains 6300 calories. Yikes! Better make sure your potential donor has been chugging orange juice for a while or else you’ll be a big, fat vampire.
Most people think an iron overdose might be the result of daily blood drinking. Not so. Iron levels in human blood aren’t high enough to cause a problem, unless you drink more than 26 liters. Um, 26 liters, at 700 calories per liter... A Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade vampire balloon. But the true evil here, aside from the obvious. is salt. Nine grams of salt per liter of human blood. That’s grams. Three liters of blood contain about four-and-a-half times the recommended daily amount for good health. Oy! Kidney failure. Hypertension. A big sick vampire parade balloon. Everything in moderation, Ann. A little blood, a nice salad, a little blood, a burger, a little blood, some apple pie. And the vampire life is yours.