Diarrhea After Drinking Alcohol – What’s The Connection?

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diarrhea after drinking alcohol
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Do you also wake up with an upset stomach after a whole night of partying with your friends? Well, you are not alone. For the record, heavy drinking can wreak havoc on your stomach. Apart from the major hangover that you experience, you can have constant urges to urinate, as well as poop a lot after drinking alcohol.

Unfortunately, these effects of alcohol can create a perfect storm for diarrhea. Yes, you heard that right. You can suffer from diarrhea after drinking alcohol. 

Here’s all you need to know about getting diarrhea after drinking alcohol.

What causes diarrhea after drinking alcohol

There are multiple reasons why consuming alcohol can lead to diarrhea. These include – 

  • First of all, the most obvious reason why alcohol causes diarrhea is that it is a diuretic. When you drink alcohol, it reduces the production of a hormone called vasopressin, which helps your kidneys to hold onto the water rather than excreting out the bladder. This explains why you frequently have the urge to pee after drinking. 
  • Secondly,  the ethanol present in alcohol stimulates the activity of the intestine, which ensures that the alcohol finds its way back to your colon via your bloodstream until completely digested. Additionally,  speedy digestion means that your colon has very little time to absorb water; resulting in watery stools (diarrhea). This explains why you tend to poop a lot after drinking alcohol. 
  • The source of your runs, too, may extend beyond bowel irritation. Alcohol can kill the good bacteria in your gut which can alter the bugs’ balance, resulting in a higher concentration of the bad bacteria. That’s a concern, since so much of the baddies will actually damage the capacity of your intestines to retain water. Moreover, too much alcohol will even induce acid output in your stomach. 
  • The composition of the drink plays a major role too. For instance, if you have a problem in absorbing carbohydrates or you suffer from gluten sensitivity, drinking sugary and high carb drinks like beers could make the symptoms worse. When you consume a high carb drink, some of the carbs will reach your large intestine without breaking down completely. The bacteria in your broad intestine may continue to turn certain carbohydrates into energy that can contribute to gas, bloating, and diarrhea. 

Risk factors of alcohol-induced diarrhea

Diarrhea after drinking alcohol depends on a variety of factors such as –

  • Excessive drinking 

People who drink frequently, probably every day are more likely to suffer from alcohol-induced diarrhea than those who drink alcohol casually and in moderate amounts. 

Additionally, people who indulge in binge drinking are likely to experience stomach upsets as it severely impacts your digestive system, leading to frequent diarrhea episodes. 

  • Leaky gut syndrome 

Heavy alcohol intake has been found to contribute in thinning the stomach’s protective inner layer. This can potentially lead to a severe condition called leaky gut syndrome. 

It leads to a ‘leaky gut’ or increased permeability of the intestine. It diminishes the ability of the stomach to rid itself of harmful bacteria.

  • Suffering from bowel diseases

People already suffering from bowel diseases are very much likely to have diarrhea triggered by alcohol. Conditions such as coeliac disease, irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease all cause increased sensitivity in the digestive tract and, therefore, are specifically reactive to alcohol. 

Hence, existing symptoms, such as stomach pains may get exacerbated when alcohol is consumed; thereby causing diarrhea.

  • Irregular sleep schedule 

People with disrupted or irregular sleep schedules may have a greater chance of having diarrhea after drinking compared to those who do not. It especially includes who have overnight shifts, and have to pull all-nighters. 

According to research, a lack of regular sleep can make the digestive tract more sensitive to alcohol’s effects, as it does not get the adequate sleep it requires. 

prevent diarrhea after drinking alcohol

How to prevent diarrhea after drinking alcohol

  • Eating before drinking

This is a very crucial tip to prevent alcohol-induced diarrhea. Well, we all probably know that drinking on an empty stomach is a really bad idea. 

Therefore, fueling your body a bit would not only ward off a major hangover, but would also slow down the rate of absorption of alcohol in the body and ultimately reduce the risk of diarrhea. 

It is recommended to have a well balanced and wholesome meal before you hit the bar. Even if you plan on having some casual drinks, you can grab a simple snack to be on the safer side. 

  • Eating while drinking

Being mindful of what you are eating while drinking can also help in avoiding diarrhea after drinking alcohol. There are certain foods that you should avoid while drinking such as – 

Highly spicy and highly seasoned foods

Oily or fried foods 

Dairy foods like ice cream and cheese 

  • Drink water 

Drinking plenty of water before, during, and after you’ve had alcohol could really be your best bet to prevent diarrhea. Make sure to drink alcohol between every alternate drink. 

It would not only help in balancing the alcohol, but your future hangover would be thankful for it too. 

How to treat alcohol induced diarrhea 

  • In most cases, alcohol-induced diarrhea will clear up within a few days by itself. But following some basic steps will further ease the symptoms and allow for faster recovery. These include –
  • Eat simple and quickly digestible foods like rice, plain crackers, toast, bananas, eggs and chicken. These would help fill up your stomach without triggering any unwelcome symptoms
  • Drink lots of  fluids to offset fluid depletion, for example, water, broth, juices and herbal teas
  • Avoid caffeinated drinks, as these can make your diarrhea worse

When to see a doctor 

Diarrhea could become a very serious problem because it could be connected to bigger problems like celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, or dehydration. Dehydration can become life-threatening if left unchecked. Symptoms of Dehydration include:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Negligible or no urine at all
  • Extreme  weakness
  • Dizziness 
  • Feeling tired
  • Fatigue 
  • Dry skin and mouth
  • Very dark-colored urine.

If you experience any of the above symptoms, or your diarrhea doesn’t clear up even after a few days, then it’s advised to consult a doctor.