Vampires do exist in real life, regardless of what your parents taught you, and they have to deal with the numerous side effects of drinking human blood. Many of these modern vampires have adopted a bloodsucking lifestyle by choice and are able to minimize most blood-drinking effects by limiting their consumption. However, individuals who have clinical vampirism feel compelled to keep going even after they learn what happens when vampires drink blood. This can lead to disastrous consequences, and it's also virtually guaranteed to have an enormous impact on their entire lives.
The major difference between clinical vampirism and choosing a vampire lifestyle - which these real photos of vampires document - is that people with clinical vampirism typically have little to no control over their desire to consume blood. Medical case reviews indicate that this condition is rare, but it absolutely does exist. These cases have helped answer a common question: what happens if you drink blood? They've also pointed out the many similarities in the childhood experiences of clinical vampires, which include cutting themselves at a young age. As the condition progresses, these sanguinarians become increasingly fixated on getting blood from other people.
There is no known cure or successful treatment method for clinical vampirism. Interestingly though, it's possible that people with a serious iron deficiency may be able to give into the same vital craving without suffering from as many side effects. Therefore, how your body reacts to drinking blood may vary slightly from the typical, medically observed complications. There are a number of common consequences from drinking blood, however.
In the movies, vampires often feed on their victims until they expire. Real-life vampirism is quite different, and most sanguinarians take proactive measures to prevent themselves from terminating someone. This isn't usually an issue because people can lose up to 30% of their blood supply before needing a transfusion. A blood loss of 40%, however, is typically fatal, but real-life vampires only feed on a couple of ounces of blood at a time.
Problems can arise if someone isn't careful about how they obtain blood from a willing donor, though. For instance, if a vampire bites or cuts someone in the wrong spot, they could open an artery. Depending on how deep the cut is, it's possible to bleed to your end in just a few minutes.
Drinking blood regularly means that you have to worry about the possibility of ending up with hemochromatosis. This illness literally means iron overload, and having too much iron in your blood can end you. Hemochromatosis is usually a genetic condition that gets worse throughout a patient's life until they discover the need for treatment. However, people with clinical vampirism can cause the disease to develop in themselves because the human body is incapable of properly metabolizing the blood's iron.
The early symptoms of iron overload include fatigue, weight loss, joint pain, weakness, irregular menstrual cycles, and erectile dysfunction. If the condition is left untreated, it can damage organs and will eventually lead to one's expiration.
Everyone has accidentally ingested some blood in their life (who hasn't had a busted lip?). This is almost always your own blood, though, and minimal quantities are unlikely to hurt you. In fact, it's believed that drinking a couple of teaspoons of uncontaminated blood is usually safe for most people. The key word here is uncontaminated, and that's where a potentially serious side effect of drinking blood can develop. Unless a vampire knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that their blood donor has no harmful illnesses, they are taking the risk of contracting hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or HIV.
Although all three of these medical conditions can usually be managed with proper treatment, it's never wise to expose yourself to a blood-borne pathogen. Hepatitis B and hepatitis C target the liver, and, in some cases, this can become life-threatening. HIV led to 1.1 million AIDS-related global deaths in 2015 alone. Ultimately, the risk of getting a blood-borne pathogen makes using an unscreened blood donor a potentially devastating side effect of drinking blood.
A staggering 25% of the annual passings in the US are caused by heart disease. In other words, this is a medical condition that you want to stay as far away from as possible. One of the side effects of hemochromatosis (iron overload) is an increased risk of developing heart disease, so anyone who prefers to live a vampire lifestyle should strongly consider limiting their blood consumption to less than two teaspoons at a time.
Symptoms of heart disease can vary, but some of the most common early indicators include shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, fatigue, dry cough, and a skin rash. Heart disease can be treated with medication and lifestyle adjustments, but this is no guarantee that it won't become life-threatening.