Drinking alcohol is often associated with social gatherings, meals, and relaxation. For some, alcohol may be associated with favorite activities and memories. While drinking alcohol can be enjoyable, it is possible to experience adverse effects and discomforts.
When alcohol is consumed, it can interfere with the different components of our gastrointestinal tract. As an example, heartburn can occur when alcohol impacts the functioning of muscles within our esophagus.
Additionally, alcohol is known to impact the muscles within our small and large intestines which contributes to diarrhea after drinking alcohol. Individuals who struggle with alcohol misuse and abuse can experience nutritional deficiencies because their bodies are unable to absorb nutrients as they should.
How To Stop Diarrhea After Drinking Alcohol?
If you are looking to reduce your experience with diarrhea after drinking alcohol, you can try:
- Using Probiotics
- Staying hydrated
- Using the BRAT diet
- Drinking in moderation
- Avoiding high-fiber foods
- Avoiding more alcohol consumption
What Causes Diarrhea After Drinking Alcohol?
There are a few reasons behind the diarrhea you can experience after drinking alcohol. One of which would be that drinking alcohol, a moderate amount or not, will impact the way your body functions. This includes slowing down the muscles in your gastrointestinal tract.
When the muscles are slowed down, they are unable to absorb food as they normally would. The result of this is passing more food through your GI tract when you are drinking, which can increase the frequency of your bowel movements.
Another piece of the puzzle is that alcohol is a diuretic. You may have noticed that when you drink, you have more trips to the bathroom. This increase in urination can cause constipation and related discomfort.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends limiting alcohol consumption to 1 drink for women and 2 drinks for men per day. Reducing your alcohol intake will reduce the negative symptoms that you experience, like diarrhea, afterward.
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- Reduces bloating and relieves constipation
- Improves general gut health
- Increases fiber intake
- Supports healthy cholesterol levels
- Promotes healthy circulation
How To Stop Diarrhea After Drinking Alcohol?
Probiotics for men and probiotics for women can improve the overall quality of your gut health. Probiotics are live microorganisms that can also help support your immune system and prevent some diseases.
Individuals who use probiotics regularly can have better gut health, which can decrease the symptoms they experience from drinking. Alcohol is known to interfere with our gastrointestinal tract, which includes disturbing the natural bacteria that our bodies have.
If you are experiencing diarrhea from alcohol, a key component for your recovery is to hydrate your body! With alcohol acting as a diuretic, you likely lose more fluid from urinating and diarrhea than you typically do.
Replenishing your body can include drinking water, juices, and other drinks that have electrolytes. You may opt for soups or broths, depending on how your stomach is feeling. Hydrating yourself is a key step to help your body recover from the effects of diarrhea after drinking alcohol.
The BRAT diet is a common recommendation for individuals who are experiencing stomach discomfort and pain, including diarrhea. The acronym BRAT refers to bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. The purpose of the brat diet is to eat foods that are easy to digest and give your gut a bit of a break from digesting as it recovers.
It is recommended for individuals who have diarrhea to avoid eating gassy and greasy foods including fast food, beans, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.
Eat Before You Drink
When you have a full stomach before you drink alcohol, you can experience a decrease in the way alcohol affects your body. You can opt for meals that include fruits, and vegetables rather than fast foods, and spicy meals.
Eating food that has a high salt content before drinking can increase the diuretic effects of alcohol since it has a similar effect on our bodies.
Drink in Moderation
Drinking in moderation will have a significant impact on the severity of symptoms you experience after drinking alcohol. In addition to the short term effects that can occur after drinking, there is a range of long term effects that can occur for those who use and misuse alcohol in a higher frequency.
The CDC reports that alcohol use is associated with high blood pressure and certain cancers, including breast cancer.
Tips To Prevent Diarrhea After Drinking Alcohol
Avoid High-Fiber Foods
When you are experiencing diarrhea from drinking alcohol, eating less fiber can help your gut regulate itself. Low fiber foods do not activate our stomachs as much as high fiber foods do, which allows your gut to digest food easier.
Avoid More Alcohol
While having “an eye-opener” is believed to decrease symptoms of a hangover, continuing to drink alcohol will worsen your experience with diarrhea and stomach discomfort. This is because you are continuing to consume alcohol before your body has had the opportunity to regulate itself back to normal.
When To See A Doctor
If your symptoms continue for more than 48 hours, you should consult a healthcare professional. Diarrhea that is accompanied by abdominal pain and blood in the stool warrants a conversation with your doctor, as these symptoms could be the result of another medical concern.
Additionally, if you have a weakened immune system or other underlying health concerns, you should speak with your doctor if your symptoms persist.
Alcohol withdrawal occurs when someone has reduced or stopped drinking alcohol after a prolonged period of time. Symptoms typically begin a few hours to a few days after reducing or stopping your alcohol intake and can include symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, and seizures in some cases.
If you suspect that you are experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms, you should contact your healthcare provider because serious, and potentially fatal, health concerns can arise during alcohol withdrawal.
Drinking in moderation on occasion can be a part of a healthy lifestyle. While it is important to consider the associated risks and dangers of alcohol consumption, it is an accepted behavior within our society.
For some, drinking alcohol is known to disrupt their gut and lead to discomfort, constipation, and diarrhea. For these individuals, it can be beneficial to incorporate small behavioral changes and diet changes that can decrease the presence of diarrhea.
Learning what works for your body can help improve your quality of life, and manage symptoms such as diarrhea, that occur after drinking alcohol.
Frequently Asked Questions
Alcohol changes the way that our gut functions, more specifically slowing down its functioning which leads to diarrhea.
Probiotics are an over-the-counter oral medication that includes living microorganisms that support gut health. Regular use can improve your overall gut health, immune system, and prevent some diseases. Probiotics for men and women will have slight differences.
Low-fiber foods that are easy to digest are ideal for an upset stomach and diarrhea. This can include bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast.
The CDC recommends that women consume a maximum of 1 drink per day, and men consume no more than 2 per day. One alcoholic drink includes: 12 ounces of 5% beer; or 8-9 oz. malt liquor; or 5 oz. of wine; or 1.5 oz of hard liquor or distilled spirits
Fast foods, greasy foods, and gassy foods could all increase the probability of experiencing stomach discomfort and diarrhea while drinking. Gassy foods include beans, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. Eating before you begin drinking can decrease the effects that you experience from drinking alcohol.
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- CDC. CDC – Fact Sheets- Moderate Drinking – Alcohol. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/moderate-drinking.htm
- Mayo Clinic. Diarrhea – Diagnosis and treatment – Mayo Clinic. Mayoclinic.org. Published 2019. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diarrhea/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20352246
- Mayo Clinic. Alcohol Use Disorder – Symptoms and Causes. Mayo Clinic. Published May 18, 2022. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alcohol-use-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20369243
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