If you’re one of those people who needs rush to the bathroom a few hours after drinking, or go the morning after a night of drinking, this article’s for you.
The topic: Can alcohol cause diarrhea?
Yeah, you’ll probably be peeing a lot too. Alcohol is a diuretic, which makes your body produce more urine.
From our research, this phenomenon doesn’t happen to everyone. And it doesn’t happen all the time to those who do have it. But the heavier you drink, the more likely it happens.
So what’s in alcohol that causes this type of stomach distress that forces you to go to the toilet in a hurry.
Why You Get Diarrhea After Drinking Alcohol
As mentioned earlier, not everybody has diarrhea after drinking alcohol. It happens more to a certain group of individuals.
- Those whose guts are sensitive to alcohol. Or, people who have certain allergies to alcohol or its ingredients. Yes, there are some unfortunate individuals.
- People who drink a lot. Or have drank a lot over the years. As a result the excessive drinking has damaged their gut. This makes them prone to diarrhea when they drink.
- Individuals who have intestinal disorders. This can be from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease to name a few.
Why Does Alcohol Cause Diarrhea
It may not always be the alcohol.
Sometimes it could just be some of the ingredients or additives used in alcohol.
Some people are allergic for some grains like wheat or barley. These ingredients are often used to make alcoholic drinks like beer.
Those who are allergic to grapes may find themselves with stomach issues after drinking wine.
Diarrhea caused by alcohol could also be from other sensitivities like gluten or yeast.
But for the most part it’s the alcohol.
In fact, gastroenterologist and author Anish Sheth, M.D. has a term for it: day-after-drinking stool (DADS). You and your friends probably have a less medical sounding term for it. Something like beer s**ts.
Alcohol Speeds Up Our Digestive Process
One of the reasons why you end up sitting on the toilet is ethanol.
This ingredient in alcoholic drinks speeds up our body’s digestion. As a result, our colon has less time to absorb water, resulting in watery stools.
Often, it isn’t just diarrhea you have to deal with.
If you’re a beer drinker, you’ve probably noticed that cramping feeling or being gassy. This is a result of the carbohydrates in beer that weren’t broken down properly because digestion was sped up.
The DADS phenomenon between alcohol and diarrhea is similar to lactose intolerance. When someone with lactose intolerance consumes dairy, they feel discomfort, pass gas, and end up in the bathroom. Drinking alcohol does something similar.
How Alcohol Harms Your Stomach
Unfortunately, it isn’t just the discomfort and diarrhea. Alcohol actually does some harm to our guts as well.
Alcohol irritates our digestive system. When we drink, our stomach produces more acid that it normally does.
Constant drinking or in excessive amounts leads to more damage.
In some cases, the increase of stomach acid can lead to gastritis, an inflammation of the stomach’s lining.
When this happens, it can result in diarrhea, stomach pain, and vomiting. If you’ve been drinking long enough, and heavy enough, bleeding may occur as well.
Then there’s the issue of post drinking diarrhea.
Strange enough, drinks with lower alcohol content, like beer and wine, are what often cause this. Drinks with higher alcoholic concentration don’t.
As mentioned earlier, alcohol affects water’s absorption from our large intestine. This causes our stools to be more liquid. It also speeds up the passage through the large intestine.
And, as a result, you find yourself rushing to the bathroom a few hours later with watery stools.
But more importantly, alcohol quickens the digestion process as well as decreases our digestive enzymes. Thus, interfering with proper digestion. This prevents you from getting the nutrition from the food you ate before drinking alcohol, since they get flushed out with it in the bathroom.
Fixing the Issue
There’s some good and bad news here. We’ll start with the bad.
The bad news here is that the most effective way of preventing diarrhea from alcohol is to stop drinking. The good news though is you probably don’t need to stop drinking entirely.
You do need to observe how your body reacts. How much can you drink before this happens? What kinds of alcoholic drinks cause this, and which don’t?
Drinking in moderation, which is around 1 glass of wine or 1 beer a day, is something safe to shoot for.
However, if you are sensitive to alcohol, or if you stomach has some damage from drinking too much, then the only remedy is staying away from alcohol all together.