Diarrhea After Drinking: Causes and Treatments

Do you end up spending most of your time in the toilet with a bout of diarrhea after you drink alcohol? You are certainly not alone. Many people experience the same, especially when they drink too much. Interestingly, many people experience the issue right away, while others do not have the diarrhea until the next morning. Do you wonder why it happens? Can you do something about it?

Why Do You Get Diarrhea After Drinking Alcohol?

1. Your Digestive System Slows Down

When you drink alcohol, it slows down your digestive system. Alcohol directly affects your digestive system and makes it difficult for muscles to contract and expand normally. This will cause your body to be not able to absorb sufficient water in the foods that you consume, leading to a diarrhea. Alcohol can also affect the muscle contractions in the large intestine and rectum, which is again going to affect your body's ability to process the food you eat and cause diarrhea.

2. You Develop Inflammation in the GI Tract

Another reason why you have diarrhea after having alcohol is that alcohol irritates your GI tract and leads to inflammation. In fact, alcohol is an irritant that can affect everything from the mouth to the rectum. It also triggers the production of stomach acids, which in turn can aggravate inflammation and result in diarrhea.

3. Other Possible Causes

  • Yeast Allergy: Most alcohol beverages have yeast content, and anyone allergic to yeast may end up developing diarrhea.
  • Wheat Intolerance: Having a bout of diarrhea after consuming beers may indicate that you have wheat intolerance. You may want to switch to another beverage to see if your symptoms improve.
  • Sulfites Allergy: Some alcoholic beverages contain sulfites which can work as an allergen and cause diarrhea and other symptoms.

Who Is at Risk of Diarrhea After Drinking?

While anyone can experience issues after drinking, certain people are more likely to experience diarrhea after consuming alcohol. For instance, you may experience diarrhea if:

  • You drink excessive alcohol regularly. It damages your gut and results in diarrhea.
  • You drink too much alcohol too quickly. Your digestive system cannot handle a large amount of alcohol too quickly.
  • You have an intestinal disorder like ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, or irritable bowel syndrome.
  • You have food allergies and intolerances.

What Should You Do If You Always Get Diarrhea After Drinking?

The best choice is to give up alcohol completely. However, if you must drink, you may want to keep a few things in mind to lower your risk of having alcohol-induced diarrhea. For instance, check if you have food intolerance. If yes, find a better alcoholic beverage. People with gluten intolerance cannot enjoy anything that includes wheat, but that means you might still be able to enjoy wine. But, if you are sulfite-intolerant, you may want to avoid wine and opt for beer to avoid having a bout of diarrhea.

When to See a Doctor

It is better to quit drinking as soon as possible to avoid any problems. If you continue to drink, your condition is going to get worse. You should see your doctor if:

  • Your diarrhea persists for more than a couple of days and does not get any better with time.
  • You feel dehydrated and have symptoms like dry mouth, excessive thirst, dry skin, little urination, weakness, dark-colored urine, or lightheadedness.
  • You experience pain in the abdomen or rectum.
  • You notice blood in stools.
  • You have a fever higher than 102 degrees Fahrenheit.

How to Deal with Diarrhea Caused by Drinking Alcohol

There are a number of treatment options to help you deal with diarrhea after drinking alcohol. Here are some suggestions:

  • Increase your intake of clear fluids. You can have more water, or include juices and broths in your diet. Avoid caffeine though.
  • Consume more low-fiber and semisolid foods. You can enjoy stuff like toast, soda crackers, chicken, rice, or eggs to help normalize your bowel movements quickly.
  • Stay away from dairy products while you are having a bout of diarrhea. Also, avoid high-fiber foods, fatty foods, and highly seasoned foods for a few days.
  • Take anti-diarrhea medications. You can find OTC anti-diarrheal medications, like Pepto-Bismol and Imodium A-D. You can take these or ask your doctor for help if OTC medications do not help. Do not take these OTC medications if you already have parasitic or bacterial infections – they can make your infection worse.
  • Take probiotics to improve your condition. Probiotics help improve the number of healthy bacteria in your gut and prevent digestive problems. You can find probiotics in liquid or capsule form. These probiotics are very helpful when you have infection diarrhea or antibiotic-associated diarrhea. 
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