why does alcohol make you poop
Maybe it happens when you’re drinking, and you find yourself stuck in the bar’s toilet asking for mercy. You know it’s a bad sign when you have to sit on that disgusting toilet.
Or when you spend the next morning in the bathroom.
In any case, going to the bathroom when you are an alcoholic is not fun. To shed light on this phenomenon, BuzzFeed contacted two specialists: Lisa Ganjhu, a gastroenterologist at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York, and Ali Keshavarzian, director of digestive diseases at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and recipient of a grant. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
Here is why alcohol can sometimes be a big mess:
First, let’s see how alcohol is digested in the digestive system.
When alcohol enters the stomach, a small amount is absorbed by the stomach wall. The rest laps in your stomach before going to the small intestine. In the small intestine, alcohol is absorbed directly into the bloodstream. After that, all that remains is waste and water flowing to the large intestine (colon) until they reach the rectum and leave the body … as excrement.
During this magical journey, alcohol can disrupt everything, from stomach enzymes to the speed of digestion, all of which can wreak havoc in your transit.
Alcohol can ~ speed things up ~ in your intestinal tract, so you risk getting diarrhea after drinking.
The muscles of the colon contract and relax to push the waste out of the body, explains Lisa Ganjhu, and alcohol can accelerate these contractions.
“The increase in transit time means there is less time for water absorption in the colon, so the stool is watery and comes out as diarrhea,” says Ali Keshavarzian.
The rapid movements of the colon also give you the impression that you have to go empty immediately, which is why you sometimes have to run in the bar.
But you also drink more fluid than usual, which can soften and liquefy your stool.
You consume a lot more fluid than usual during a drunken evening, especially if you alternate your drinks with water, which you should do. Most liquids end up in your bladder, or they are reabsorbed in the colon, but sometimes the excess fluid ends up in your stool instead, says Lisa Ganjhu. And we all know that water and liquid stools are also more difficult to control, so things can quickly become ~ explosive ~.
Your digestive problems after an evening may also be related to certain types of alcohol or soft drink.
Some people have intolerances or allergies to non-alcoholic components in alcohol, such as gluten in the wheat of beer or grapes in wine. “A lot of people react the tannins of grape skins in red wine, which can cause nausea or diarrhea,” says Ali Keshavarzian.
All these sodas and sweet juices mixed with cocktails can also have adverse consequences on your stomach. Drinks with a high sugar content can cause rapid gastric emptying, says Ali Keshavarzian, where the contents of your stomach will move too quickly in the small intestine (thus causing diarrhea).
And do not forget junk food …
There is a good chance your 4-hour slab has a high fat, fat, salt and carbohydrate content. “There’s no logic behind that, but people crave high-calorie foods after drinking,” says Lisa Ganjhu. So maybe this cheap pizza that you usually eat late in the evening is the cause of your transit problems the next day.
Not to mention that alcohol can alter your judgment and decision-making, so it’s harder to resist the temptation to eat certain foods even if you know they will give you indigestion or diarrhea.
And if you already have diseases or bowel problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, alcohol can do even more damage to your bowels.
Doctors usually advise stopping alcohol if you have a very sensitive stomach or an intestinal disease such as irritable bowel syndrome or ulcerative colitis, says Lisa Ganjhu. Not only does alcohol aggravate symptoms such as diarrhea, but it can also cause irritation or inflammation.
“People with these diseases tolerate less alcohol than others in the digestive system,” says Ali Keshavarzian.
On the other hand, an intestinal disease might be the underlying problem. If you tend to have many stomach or transit problems caused by your drinking, you should go to the doctor to make sure you do not have undiagnosed bowel disease.
But it is not only the “alcoholic transits” that are disturbing. Sometimes alcohol can have the opposite effect.
Alcohol can have a desiccating effect, as it prevents your body from reabsorbing water, and together you lose more fluids due to frequent urination.
So, if you do not drink plenty of water when you drink alcohol, you can dehydrate yourself. As a result, your stool will be harder and move more slowly, says Lisa Ganjhu. Translation: you are bloated and constipated.
It also depends on the amount of alcohol you consume.
It is interesting to note that substantial drinking does not always translate into more explosive diarrhea. Studies have shown that low levels of alcohol can speed up stomach emptying in the intestines. But copious amounts of alcohol can slow down stomach motility, which will be more likely to cause bloating or a feeling of constipation, explains Lisa Ganjhu.
Having foods in your stomach can help reduce the effect of alcohol on the intestines.
Foods help reduce the absorption of alcohol by slowing down the process of gastric emptying, explains Lisa Ganjhu, when the contents of the stomach are spilled into the small intestine. You may feel a little bloated, but in general, the food will have a protective effect. Also, you will be stuffed less quickly.
On the other hand, drinking on an empty stomach means that more alcohol goes into the small intestine and is absorbed into the blood. This can affect other organs such as the colon, resulting in loose stools and diarrhea.
That said, what you eat is, of course, important, says Lisa Ganjhu. Here’s what experts suggest to eat before and after drinking.
And sometimes, alcohol does not cause transit problems. In fact, it depends on people.
Everyone does not have the same gastrointestinal process and the same rate of digestion, says Lisa Ganjhu. Alcohol alone does not necessarily cause diarrhea, but it may be the case for some, depending on what they drink and how it affects their stomachs.
“The way alcohol affects the gastrointestinal tract is a bit enigmatic, and we continue to research to understand how it works,” says Ali Keshavarzian. For example, new research shows that intestinal damage caused by alcohol can worsen if your circadian rhythm is interrupted, such as for people who are jet-lagged, who work at night or spend sleepless nights.
If you can drink all night without any transit disturbance, you may have an intestinal advantage that scientists have not yet figured out. Or you just have a lot of luck.
It is important to note that severe diarrhea that lasts more than a day after drinking is not normal, so you should consider going to see a doctor.
Stools that are more liquid than usual or bloating after drinking alcohol is usually not a concern, but experts agree that recurring or excruciating transit problems are not typical. “If you have heavy diarrhea, which is 10 to 15 times a day and does not get better after a day or two, you should go see your doctor,” advises Lisa Ganjhu.
And of course, there are even more severe bowel problems that can result from chronic alcohol use or alcohol abuse.
Notably inflammation of the pancreas, liver damage or liver failure (cirrhosis), leaky intestinal barrier (intestinal hyperpermeability) and ulcers, says Ali Keshavarzian. Chronic alcohol consumption can also cause lactose intolerance, says Lisa Ganjhu, because the alcohol eventually dissolves the enzymes that break down lactose.
In the end, it depends on the person and the duration of their alcohol consumption, but long-term alcohol abuse usually has an adverse effect on the digestive system. “Alcohol is a potent chemical with addictive potential and should be considered as such,” says Ali Keshavarzian.
It is always important to drink responsibly and take care of yourself.
According to the US Department of Health, moderate alcohol consumption is up to two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women. The low-risk drinking is a maximum of four drinks a day for men and three drinks for women. And glass is defined by the NIAAA as 35.5cl of beer, 14.8cl of wine or 4.4cl of distilled spirits.
As mentioned above, you should consult your doctor if you notice an intestinal change or a significant stomach problem. And if you notice a mess (literally) every time you drink, maybe you should stop the alcohol for a while to see if your symptoms improve.
And make sure you never get too far from the toilet.
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