Many people can experience diarrhea after drinking because of several changes in the gastrointestinal tract, such as inflammation in the gut, imbalance of bacteria, and disturbance in water resorption. Alcohol-related diarrhea mainly depends on the type and quantity of alcohol consumed. Unfortunately, alcohol-related diarrhea can lead to potentially life-threatening complications like shock, severe dehydration, and electrolyte imbalances. However, you may prevent alcohol-related diarrhea by avoiding alcohol intake on an empty stomach, drinking plenty of water, and consuming alcohol in moderation. If you are suffering from other gut problems like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), celiac disease, and Crohn’s disease, alcohol can worsen the symptoms.
Confidant Health is an online platform that offers Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) involving behavioral therapy and medications to help you cope with problems related to alcohol misuse. Furthermore, this platform offers a virtual alcohol rehabilitation program, providing you an opportunity to discuss your challenges related to alcohol dependence with an expert.
What causes diarrhea after drinking alcohol?
Alcohol can cause diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms by the following mechanisms.
- Gut motility refers to the muscle movement of the gastrointestinal tract required to move food from the mouth toward the anal opening. Increased motility can result in diarrhea and watery stools. Alcohol, particularly low-dose wine and beer, can increase esophageal, gastric, and intestinal motility.
- The human intestine has more than 500 bacterial species, most of which are good for gut health as they play a beneficial role in digestion. Alcohol consumption can disrupt the gut's bacterial balance, promoting the growth of bad bacteria. This change in bacterial balance can result in diarrhea-related problems.
- Mucosa is the internal lining of the gastrointestinal tract, and it provides protection against harmful pathogens and toxins. Alcohol produces local inflammation in the gut, decreasing the immunity of mucosa. As a result, the gut becomes susceptible to intestinal pathogens, including diarrhea-causing bacteria and parasites.
- Alcohol interrupts the absorption of nutrients in the stomach, including fats, vitamins A, E, folic acid, and vitamin B12. Less absorption of fats results in an increased amount of fats in the gut, resulting in diarrhea. Just like fats, water is also not appropriately absorbed back into the body, increasing the water content of stools.
Is there any role of type and amount of alcohol in causing alcohol-related diarrhea?
The brand or type of alcohol plays a vital role in causing diarrhea. For example, beer and wine increase the chances of diarrhea more than vodka and whiskey. This is because beer and wine have less pure alcohol content than the latter ones. A low dose of pure alcohol can increase gut motility and stomach acid secretions relatively in higher amounts than high alcohol content drinks. Similarly, chronic alcohol consumption can cause inflammation and irritation of gastric mucosa, leading to diarrhea.