Can Alcohol Cause or Help Relieve Constipation?
A few years ago I was at a party with my friends when suddenly one of them told me that she had been drinking all night long and she felt very sick. She asked if I could get her some water, but since it was so late I didn’t feel like going out there again. So instead I went back home where my parents were already awake and asleep.
I drank a glass of wine before bed and slept well. When I woke up, I felt really bad.
My bowels hurt so much that they actually started bleeding. I couldn’t go to the bathroom for days! At first I thought maybe something else was wrong with me, but then it hit me: alcohol causes diarrhea!
It’s not just me either; many other people have reported similar symptoms after drinking alcohol. And while some people claim that their symptoms disappear once they stop drinking, others report that they don’t get better even after months of abstinence.
So what exactly happens when someone drinks alcohol? Does it cause diarrhea or not? What are the possible reasons behind this phenomenon?
Let’s take a look at the facts.
How Does Alcohol Cause Diarrhea?
There are a number of different ways in which alcohol can cause diarrhea:
It makes your motor skills severely impaired, you might not be able to control the timing and contractions of your bowels effectively. This will result in diarrhea.
It’s easy to see how this happens since alcohol consumption also results in impaired judgment and coordination. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system, which is why it can cause drowsiness. Large amounts can even lead to coma and death. The inhibition of your central nervous system and the subsequent dilation of blood vessels result in diarrhea. Alcohol irritates the lining of the gastrointestinal tract and suppresses the vomiting reflex.
As you can see, all of these effects are not necessarily related to diarrhea. They might cause other unpleasant GI symptoms like indigestion, nausea, or bloating.
However, in some cases alcohol can actually cause diarrhea. In these cases, we are dealing with an allergic reaction to specific ingredients in alcoholic drinks rather than the alcohol itself.
People who are allergic to alcohol might experience diarrhea, but they may also suffer from a number of other symptoms like difficulty breathing, rashes, or even anaphylactic shock.
Does Alcohol Actually Relieve Constipation?
I don’t think I need to explain this one to you guys. We’ve all seen the elderly struggling to get that hard, dry piece of feces out of their rectum.
I’ve heard some people say that these “old folks” should drink more alcohol because it will relieve their constipation, but is this really true?
Surprisingly, it is. It’s important to remember that the elderly don’t usually have the same diet that you and I do. Many of them subsist mainly on soft foods like bread, sugar, and other processed carbohydrates, as well as things like milk and dairy. The reason for this is simple: their teeth are no longer fit enough to chew tough or hard foods, so they instead settle for foods that don’t require much chewing.
The problem with this is that these types of food (carbohydrates) can be really straining on the bowels. It’s not uncommon for elderly people to experience constipation because their diet does not agree with them.
Alcohol, on the other hand, is digested and absorbed through the bowels, which is why it can relieve constipation by “loosening up” the stool.
Does this mean that elderly people should drink alcohol in order to have a bowel movement?
No, absolutely not. Alcohol consumption has many negative side effects which are especially problematic for elderly people.
Sources & references used in this article:
Healthy Digestion: A Natural Approach to Relieving Indigestion, Gas, Heartburn, Constipation, Colitis, and More by D Hoffmann – 2017 – books.google.com
Medical management of constipation by M Portalatin, N Winstead – Clinics in colon and rectal surgery, 2012 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Preventing constipation in older adults by LP Longo – The Journal of clinical psychiatry, 2000 – Physicians Postgraduate Press, Inc.