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Alcohol and Health

How To Stop Diarrhea After Drinking Alcohol 

June 6, 2023
9 min read
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A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
June 6, 2023
9 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
June 6, 2023
9 min read
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
June 6, 2023
9 min read
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Reframe Content Team
June 6, 2023
9 min read

Have you ever noticed that after a night of overindulgence, you find yourself running to the bathroom more often than usual? Well, you're not alone. Many people suffer from a condition known as "hangover diarrhea." Though this phenomenon is common, it doesn't make the situation any less uncomfortable or inconvenient. So can alcohol cause diarrhea? In this blog post, we’ll discuss a few useful solutions for alleviating diarrhea after drinking alcohol.

Alcohol and Diarrhea: What’s Going On?

Alcohol can wreak havoc on our digestive system. It's a diuretic, which means it encourages our body to let go of excess water. This effect can lead to dehydration, and our gut's reaction is to get rid of its contents as quickly as possible, leading to the all-too-familiar rush to the restroom. Researchers have found a correlation between alcohol consumption and faster transit times through the gut, which translates to loose stools or diarrhea.

Diarrhea After Drinking: Digestive Disruptions

Alcohol can also interfere with digestion in a number of ways. It’s known to increase acid production in the stomach, potentially leading to inflammation and irritation of the stomach lining, known as gastritis, which can result in an upset stomach and diarrhea. It can also hinder nutrient absorption in the small intestine, leading to malabsorption and further exacerbating the problem.

Alcohol can also stimulate the gut to move more quickly than usual by increasing gut motility. A study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology found that alcohol increases gut transit times, effectively pushing food and other digestive material through the intestines faster than normal. When things move too quickly through the digestive system, our intestines don't have enough time to absorb water from our food. As a result, the stool becomes loose or liquid, causing diarrhea.

Diarrhea After Drinking: Microbiome Impact

Our gut is home to trillions of bacteria, collectively known as the gut microbiota. These bacteria play a crucial role in our health, helping with everything from digestion to immune function. Alcohol can disrupt the balance of these beneficial bacteria, leading to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria and potential digestive issues such as diarrhea. This overgrowth can interfere with normal digestion and absorption of nutrients, leading to diarrhea and other gastrointestinal distress. 

Alcohol’s impact on the microbiome can lead to further nutrient absorption issues. Over time, we may suffer from nutrient deficiencies. These can further exacerbate gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea while also impacting our mood and stress levels.

How To Stop Diarrhea After Drinking

So can you get diarrhea from alcohol? Unfortunately, yes. But now that we've identified the problem, now let's discuss solutions. Here are a few science-backed tips to help you put a plug on post-party bathroom trips:

  • Hydrate. Alcohol pulls water from the body, so replenishing lost fluids is key. While chugging water might be your first instinct, an even better choice is drinks with electrolytes — such as sports drinks or coconut water — which can aid in rehydration and help combat diarrhea.

  • Eat mindfully. Consuming bland, starchy foods such as bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast — the so-called BRAT diet — can firm up stools. Researchers found that this diet is effective at reducing diarrhea symptoms. These foods are gentle on the stomach and absorb excess liquid in the intestines, thereby alleviating loose stools and stomach issues.

  • Take probiotics. Studies suggest that certain strains of probiotics can improve digestion and promote a healthy gut flora balance, potentially reducing the likelihood of diarrhea after drinking.

  • Space it out. Moderation is key. Sipping your drinks, alternating between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and ensuring you're eating enough can mitigate alcohol’s impact on your gut. 

Preventing Diarrhea: Alcohol-Free Alternatives

If you're trying to cut back on alcohol or quit drinking, there are plenty of alternatives for enjoying a festive night out without the morning-after mishaps. Non-alcoholic beers and spirits have gained considerable traction recently. Such alternatives can significantly mitigate the risk of diarrhea after drinking, as they’re gentler on the gut. 

Remember, everyone's body is different. What works for some might not work for others. Listen to your body, and if you're concerned about any symptoms, don't hesitate to reach out to a healthcare professional. You deserve to enjoy your night out — and the following day, too! 

The time you plan on enjoying a night out, remember these tips to avoid alcohol-induced diarrhea. A little bit of prevention can go a long way in keeping your gut healthy!

Avoid Diarrhea After Drinking — Download Reframe!

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually, with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

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Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol. 

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today! 

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