beesober alcohol off switch coaching logo

THE ALCOHOL OFF SWITCH

Make Sobriety Your Priority

Bloated Stomach After Drinking Alcohol? Let’s Talk Tummies!

In general, your stomach can be bloated for many reasons, but when the reason for that bloatedness is excessive drinking of alcohol then it can be more challenging to manage. For most long-term alcohol users, having a bloated stomach is a common, annoying problem.

alcohol bloat

Having a bloated belly changes the shape of your abdomen and affects digestion – ultimately where what and how we are getting nutrients to our body – the things that keep us alive and make up our entire physical presence!

That ond adage – ‘we are what we eat’ – kinda also applies to what we drink!

This is why it is so important to understand the reasons for stomach bloating with alcohol, what has caused it, how it can be treated, and how to avoid it in the future.

We have put together this blog post to discuss ‘belly bloating’ after excessive or chronic drinking.

Alcohol and Stomach Bloating – the effects excessive drinking can have on the stomach.

A bloated stomach after drinking alcohol is often due to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). IBS can damage the intestines in the stomach and will show wth symptoms of pain and discomfort in the stomach.

People who are diagnosed with IBS often suffer with constipation and diarrea. During my own personal days of heavy drinking, as well as experiencing a bloated stomach, I also suffered with these symtons – with the fear of being ‘too vulgar’ – my own personal toileting experiences were often incomfortable, sore or extremely uncomfortable at best. Not every time, but as my chronic drinking journey continued, the visits to the toilet definitely worsened.

The actual symptoms that I was having, they could have been put down to other reasons and people do suffer with IBS for various life-factors, but one of the strongerst factors that can flare up IBS is consuming alcohol.

When we drink alcohol to any extent, this can cause irritation in the abdominal region, and this is what causes bloating of the stomach.

Having a bloated belly changes the shape of your abdomen and affects digestion – ultimately where what and how we are getting nutrients to our body – the things that keep us alive and make up our entire physical presence!

This is why it is so important to understand the reasons for stomach bloating with alcohol, what has caused it, how it can be treated, and how to avoid it in the future.

Bloating can often be due to irritible bowel syndrome. The National Library of Medicine state that IBS affects between 3 and 20 percent of Americans, for a variety of reasons – and bloating is a common effect of IBS. The disorder can cause damage to the inside of the stomach – specifically the intestines, which damage causes pain and discomfort in the stomach. Common symptoms are constipation and diarrhea – something that I have had many times over the 2 decades of heavy drinking.

stomach during drinking alcohol


With any chronic symptoms, they often come on slowly, then become more and more noticeable. As a drinker, I sort of passed these symptoms off and ignored them. They then got worse, but I was already used to negative effects on my body. As with any other symptom of hammering alcohol, had I woken up one day with these symptoms full-blown, then it would have worried me no-doubt. But as we do as humans, we normalise ‘early warning signs’ For me, a bloated stomach and toilting problems just became hand in hand with a day or night of heavy beer.
Throwing all of this alcohol down your throat and into your stomach irritates and inflames your intestines – and this is the reason for bloating after drinking alcohol.

To really get to grips with why your stomach bloats, you have to understand how alcohol works within your body, specifically your stomach and your overall GI tract take a look here.

So let’s break this down.


When a person uses alcohol to excess, there are a few things to take into consideration with regard to overall gut health.
Drinking is a toxin. Alcohol, no matter how tasty or pretty it is packaged, is a poison to your body, there is no denying that! With this, the poison causes damage to the lining of your stomach, called mucous membrane), and also inflames the area.
this
The infoluntary muscle, or smooth muscle, is different from ‘striated’ muscle. Smooth muscle contracts automatically and this makes up most of the digestive system. These muscles rely on sphincters in the stomach to control what goes in the stomach. Alcohol itself affects acid secretion, which controls the sphincters. The stronger the alcohol, the more acid the stomach will secrete. Alcohol makes these muscles relax and dilate. To put it clearly, the stronger the alcohol you consume, the more your stomach struggles and the less it will be able to function properly.
For a further insight into what alcohol does to your digestive tract, you can read what the Colonic Association have to say on the matter here – http://www.colonic-association.org/blog/advice/booze-and-poos-what-alcohol-does-to-your-digestive-system/

If you or anyone you are concerned about is drinking alcohol to excess, then take a look at our support page on Facebook, or motivation page on Instagram.
Our Private Facebook group is also available, where people can exchange thoughts, ideas and conversations to help support each other in their journey to sobriety. The group is 100% private, and membership will not show on your public Facebook account.

Why does drinking alcohol cause stomach bloating?

Why does drinking alcohol cause stomach bloating?

Alcohol does not cause stomach bloating for everyone, this is something that I noticed throughout my years of drinking, but it did for some? Why was that, I often wondered?

The reason is, as with the human body, never ever straight forward or black and white. Alcohol causes bloating by inflaming the inside of your tummy, and this inflammation caused bloating, right? People who have health issues that are cauesd by impaired stomach functions will often have difficulties with their digestive tract and overall digestion in general
Specifically, alclhol is a trigger for IBS – not necessarily a CAUSE, but certainly a trigger – this is well documented and studies by the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3921083/. Put short, if you have IBS, drink more and your symtoms will worsen.

In order for your body to digest drinks as it is designed to do, your stomach must be able to function as it is meant to do. Smooth muscle should be able to do it’s job and involuntarily complete the process that is digestion. Put something into your system that impairs these movements – for example the poison that we are discussing here – an this is where you can experience stomach bloating from alcohol.

Alcohol is known to stunt our nervous system (pubmed – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23713737/#:~:text=Alcohol%20can%20affect%20several%20parts,problems%20with%20cognition%20and%20memory.). We are not just talking about the digestive tract here, but the overall nervous system and in turn our overall health. So rather than it just affecing the lining of the stomach, it affects other parts causing pain, stomach cramps and diarrhea.

Alcohol Bloating – How Long Does Alcohol Bloating Last?

Personally, I found that my own alcohol bloating could last from days to weeks. Since I became alcohol free, I have not experienced bloating of any form and am grateful that this has been one of my own personal health benefits I gained.
Alcohol bloating length depends on factors mentioned above, underlying or present physical conditions, the amount of alcohol the person has consumed or their overal general health.
The acual stomach bloating of alcohol could last from a few days to months. There is no hard and fast rule as we are all so different. But one thing is consistent – alcohol inflames the digestive system, so the chances of a bloated stomach following drinking alcohol is increased.

Why does drinking alcohol cause stomach bloating?

Alcohol does not cause stomach bloating for everyone, this is something that I noticed throughout my years of drinking, but it did for some? Why was that, I often wondered?

The reason is, as with the human body, never ever straight forward or black and white. Alcohol causes bloating by inflaming the inside of your tummy, and this inflammation caused bloating, right? People who have health issues that are cauesd by impaired stomach functions will often have difficulties with their digestive tract and overall digestion in general
Specifically, alclhol is a trigger for IBS – not necessarily a CAUSE, but certainly a trigger – this is well documented and studies by the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3921083/. Put short, if you have IBS, drink more and your symtoms will worsen.

In order for your body to digest drinks as it is designed to do, your stomach must be able to function as it is meant to do. Smooth muscle should be able to do it’s job and involuntarily complete the process that is digestion. Put something into your system that impairs these movements – for example the poison that we are discussing here – an this is where you can experience stomach bloating from alcohol.

Alcohol is known to stunt our nervous system (pubmed). We are not just talking about the digestive tract here, but the overall nervous system and in turn our overall health. So rather than just affecting the lining of the stomach, it affects other parts causing pain, stomach cramps, and diarrhea.

Alcohol Bloating – How Long Does Alcohol Bloating Last?

pains in stomach might not be related to alcohol - always best to discuss with GP/medic

Personally, I found that my own alcohol bloating could last from days to weeks. Since I became alcohol free, I have not experienced bloating of any form and am grateful that this has been one of my own personal health benefits I gained.
Alcohol bloating length depends on factors mentioned above, underlying or present physical conditions, the amount of alcohol the person has consumed or their overal general health.
The acual stomach bloating of alcohol could last from a few days to months. There is no hard and fast rule as we are all so different. But one thing is consistient – alcohol inflames the digestive system, so the chances of a bloated stomach following drinking alcohol is increased.
Although anyone can suffer from a bloated stomach from alcohol, in terms of a timescale to reduce the bloating – this can depend on a number of things. A rare-drinker may experinece a bloated stomach, but their body (assuming there is no other medical conditions) will clear out the toxins and they might go back to normal in a few days. However a consitient heavy drinker would not allow their stomach to settle from the inflamation, and bloating will remain.
ALso, consistent or chronic drinkers are not just affecting the lining of their stomach, but also other parts of their GI tract. In this case it could completely normal for bloating to remain for weeks or even months – this is without drinking and allowing their bodies to heal.

In extreme cases then bloating will simply be part of weight gain and can take months or even years – depending on aspects such as the person’s current levels of drinking, previous levels, physical overall health.
Alcohol bloating of the stomach can also be caused by alcohol-induced hepatitis – inflammation of the liver.

What do do if my stomach is hurting after drinking

Although stomach bloating often does not cause ‘pain’ as such, more discomfort. Although it is not as ‘painful’ as other stomach issues, it can still not be a nice thing to experience.

It is very important to note at this point, pain in your stomach coudl be related to something else other than alcohol. If you are experiencing pains in your stomach, then it is always advisable to discuss with your GP or doctor, to rule out any other possibility.

Treatments For Alcohol Stomach Bloating

Stomach bloating from alcohol will often go away without treatment. Although there is no one-cure-for all when it comes to alcohol stomach bloating, there are a few suggestions below that can be helpful.

Water

Water aids your body to process toxins throughout your stomach and gastrointestinal tract. Making sure that you are hydrated, avoiding alcoho l and geting rest is usually the advice given for bloating of the stomach due to alcohol.
Water breaks down food and drink (the alcohol you have been consuming) and helps all of the required nutrients get around your digestive system.
Dehydration can also cause constipation, so getting some good amounts of water inside you will help in that department also.

Diet.

If a person is experiencing a bloated stomach from alcohol and it is long-term, then consideration would be to take a look at their lifestyle as a whole. Generally, being overweight puts lots of your body’s organs and systems (heart, joints, digestive system) under an enormous amount of pressure and strain. Throw in a chronic or heavy drinking habit and that bloating will increase. A healthy diet should always be encouraged as this is the building block of our very being, but even more so if we are experiencing negative signs and symptoms such as bloating stomach.

Intervention with medication and/or supplements

There are various medications that could be utilised to help anyone experiencing bloated stomachs, from antibiotics, antacids, proton pump inhibitors – the most appropriate medication would need to be discussed with a medical professional. Some non-prescribed medications are also recommended to work well with aiding alcohol-related stomach bloating such as pro-biotics read a guide about them here – https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/probiotics-101 which can be picked up in natural health stores.

The strongest piece of advice surrounding bloating stomach when drinking alcohol is, not surprisingly, cutting down or cutting out alcohol. The nature of the posion that is alcohol, and the way it reacts with your gut, it will cause bloating.

Are there any ways where I Can Prevent Bloating When Drinking Alcohol?

It is not possible to avoid any bloating where alcohol is concerned, but there are methods that you can put in place to reduce your chances of it happening.

Drinking water, before, after, or during actually drinking alcohol will reduce the inflammation that alcohol causes, therefore reducing bloating. If you feel like you are becoming bloated – drink more water!

Limit or stop drinking alcohol to stop alcohol bloated stomach

Other than water, here are a few other suggestions –

Don’t eat too fast! Allowing your body to process food as you eat it will encourage the food to be properly broken down so you can digest it properly. This is even more important to be aware of when drinking alcohol, for two reasons. Firstly, as we know, alcohol messes up the process of digestion. Secondly, we often eat faster when drinking alcohol. Think of the drunken man demolishing the massive burger and chips – or the last time you have ordered something ridiculously HUGE from a takeaway because your drunk mind ‘thought it was a good idea’. I have done that countless times, and for that, I suffered a bloated stomach from alcohol (and takeaways!).

Exercise – This is well-known to promote reduction in bloating and also improve the digestive system. Exercise, digestion and sweating all help with detoxifying your body, and in particular your stomach.

Try avoiding carbonated drinks. Carbonated drinks are filled with sugar which is well-known to affect and encourage stomach bloating. In addition, the heavy gases are released into your stomach and bloat it even more.

To conclude.

Bloating of your stomach due to drinking alchol can be uncomfortable and worrying. The amount of bloating will depend on many factors, person’s overall health, amount of alcohol consumed, drinking habits and other related factors as discussed above. There are times that the bloating can becaused by other health issues, and it may be worsened by drinking alcohol (IBS, for example)/

It is so important to know the impact that alcohol can have on you, not only on your mental health but also on your overall physical health.
If you are concerned about your levels of drinking, or that of a friend or family member, then I encourage you to reach out to us in our private Facebook group where there are lots of supportive people who have been in similar situations.

Talk soon

Alan Peter
The Alcohol Off Switch

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This