Why Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Alcohol are Related

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a disorder that affects the large intestine. Abdominal pain and cramping are the most common symptoms of the illness, while many patients also complain of frequent changes in their bowel movements, gas, and bloating. It is estimated that the problem affects 6-18% of people worldwide. 

What causes IBS?

Although the exact cause of irritable bowel syndrome is unknown, health experts do suggest that the diet of a person plays an important role in triggering the symptoms. Some foods that may cause a flare-up include:

  • Dairy products.
  • Some candies and chocolate.
  • Sugar-free gum.
  • Vegetables and fruit that cause flatulence such as beans, bananas, onions, carrots, apricots, prunes, and celery.

Besides food, environmental factors such as stress, genetics, and hormonal disorders can also increase the symptoms of IBS. 

What About Alcohol?

Alcohol is known to irritate the gut – which can subsequently cause IBS flare-ups and lead to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In fact, several studies have shown a connection between irritable bowel syndrome and alcohol. 

For instance, a 2013 study by the American Journal of Gastroenterology looked at the consumption of alcoholic drinks of women diagnosed with IBS. The results showed that women who binged experienced a rise in their symptoms and suffered from severe bouts of diarrhea, stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting. However, the researchers also observed that women who drank moderate amounts saw no change in their symptoms. 

Another study published in 1998, by the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, compared patients seeking treatment for alcohol abuse with patients taking remedies for other medical issues. The results showed that patients seeking treatment for alcohol abuse have high rates of IBS. 

The researchers, through various studies, concluded that individuals who consume high amounts of alcohol are more likely to experience IBS flare-ups, compared to those who drink responsibly.

IBS and Alcoholism Treatment

There is, as such, no formal treatment available for IBS. Luckily, the problem is not fatal or contagious and can be managed easily by taking a proper diet, limiting stress, and getting proper sleep. 

Individuals can also continue to enjoy moderate amounts of alcohol with their IBS. However, it is important to pay attention to any flare-ups after consumption. Here are some tips:

  • Abstain from alcohol if an increase in symptoms is apparent.
  • Be sure to stay hydrated with water when drinking alcohol.
  • Don’t take alcohol on an empty stomach.
  • If constipation occurs, take laxatives.
  • Limit consumption of alcohol to one glass per day.
  • Increase fiber intake.
  • Take probiotics to manage the symptoms.
  • Do 30 minutes of walk, exercise, or take a hike each day.

It is also a good idea to talk to your doctor regarding treatment protocols best suited for individuals with IBS. If you know someone who is looking for help when it comes to irritable bowel syndrome and alcohol, pass this article along!