When you’re living with a bowel problem, you need to pay extra attention to what you eat and drink. One question people often have is whether you can drink alcohol when you have bowel problems.
Here, we’ll look at the effects alcohol can have when you have a bowel problem.
What impact can drinking have on the bowels?
Drinking alcohol impacts the bowels in several ways. Firstly, it dehydrates the body. This can lead to issues with constipation. You’ll especially find this to be the case with higher percentage alcohol. Drinks over 15%, can also slow down the gut’s muscle movements. To prevent dehydration, make sure you drink water as well as alcoholic drinks throughout the evening.
Alternatively, you may also experience diarrhoea from drinking. This tends to occur when you drink excessively. It is a common problem for chronic drinkers, and it tends to occur due to a couple of reasons. A large amount of alcohol can cause the intestines to start releasing more water in an attempt to flush out the toxins. It also causes the muscles within the large intestines to contract more.
These are just a couple of ways alcohol can impact your bowels. Unfortunately, if you already suffer from bowel problems, the impact of alcohol can make them worse.
How does alcohol impact those with IBD?
Alcohol can cause a flare up of symptoms for those suffering with an IBD, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. These include:
- Stomach pain and cramping
- Blood in your stool
Your immune system will be weaker due to alcohol consumption. It also causes inflammation within the body, as well as damage the gut’s protective barrier. Many people with IBD feel their symptoms worsen after they drink alcohol.
An increased risk of bowel cancer
There have been a lot of studies carried out in recent years which have shown alcohol can increase your risk of certain types of cancer. Bowel cancer is one of them, with some research suggesting each alcoholic drink you have increases your risk.
Those who drink a couple of glasses of wine or beer a day, are known to have an increased risk of bowel cancer than those who drink occasionally. Just one drink a day can increase your risk.
Should you avoid alcohol altogether?
If you do have a bowel problem, it may be suggested that you avoid alcohol completely. While this may be difficult at first, cutting out alcohol can do wonders for your health. It will help to control and manage the symptoms of IBD. You’ll also decrease your risk of bowel cancer.
To determine whether alcohol is making your bowel problems worse, stop drinking and see how you feel. Do your symptoms clear up? If so, your condition was likely triggered by the amount of alcohol you were consuming.
If you are concerned about your symptoms, or would like to find out treatment options for IBD, book a consultation with Mr Woodward. He will be able to assess your situation and reveal whether or not surgery would be a good option.