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Alcohol Bloating

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It is a condition that results due to excessive intake of alcohol. Please read below to know more about it.

Written by

Dr. Ancy Jose

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Ghulam Fareed

Published At March 13, 2023
Reviewed AtMarch 13, 2023

Introduction

Alcohol bloating is a common consequence faced after having alcohol. It usually results due to excessive intake of alcohol. In alcohol bloating cases, the fullness of the stomach occurs and usually appears in a distended form. Due to its appearance of distended form, it is often referred to as a beer belly. Bloating is one of the most common symptoms that appears if any issue occurs in the digestive system. Here, in this case, it is caused only due to excess intake of alcohol. Small amounts of intake do not cause alcohol bloating. Usually, chronic drinkers taking high levels of alcohol content are more prone to bloating.

Alcohol bloating is seen in the morning due to heavy drinking the previous night. Alcohol bloating itself does not cause any life-threatening situation. However, if there are any underlying disease conditions, it will lead to serious health impacts. Usually, alcohol bloating resolves within a few hours to very few days. Resolving capacity is based on the patient's body to metabolize the alcohol content.

How Does Excess Alcohol Intake Affect the Stomach and What Are the Causes?

  • Alcohol is a substance that contains many calories. When people intake this alcohol, calories enter the body depending on the amount of intake. This high-calorie intake leads to bloating.

  • The high intake of alcohol irritates the GI tract. Mainly it affects the protective lining of the stomach and causes inflammation in that area, and more acid production occurs.

  • These alcoholic drinks are mixed with sodas which are carbonated substances that can also cause bloating feelings in the stomach. These carbonated substances cause the gas formation and can lead to fullness after having the alcohol. Alcohol itself contains carbonation.

  • During the intake of alcohol, some people have spicy foods such as pickles and fried tapioca. This food substance, along with alcohol, irritates the stomach and leads to bloating.

  • Smoking, along with the intake of alcohol, adds to bloating conditions because, during smoking, the air gets trapped inside the stomach.

  • If the patient has any underlying disease conditions, for example, gastritis (inflammation of the lining of the stomach), this alcohol itself causes severe irritation to the stomach; it can also worsen the symptoms of gastritis along with bloating.

  • During alcohol intake, air getting trapped is more likely due to the speed of intake. This entrapped air causes stomach discomfort, leading to bloating and other contributing factors.

What Are the Commonly Seen Symptoms?

The symptoms of alcohol bloating usually appear the very next day after a heavy drink the previous day. The symptoms vary from patient to patient. The patient experiences a distended stomach due to excessive alcohol drinking. Due to this distended belly, it is referred to as beer belly. The patient presents with a swollen face. Some symptoms are redness of the face. The patient faces difficulty in digestion of the food; it may be because the alcohol causes the muscles around the stomach to relax. Due to this fullness of the stomach, the patient may experience nausea and vomiting.

The alcohol irritates the stomach and produces more acids, leading to a burning sensation in the chest. Loss of appetite is also a symptom due to fullness and indigestion caused due to alcohol bloating. Alcohol bloating can also result in constipation or diarrhea in some patients depending on the amount of alcohol intake. Some patients experience slight dull pain in the stomach due to bloating. Usually, symptoms resolve after some hours or days.

How to Diagnose Alcohol Bloating?

Usually, the symptoms of alcohol bloating reduce after some hours of intake of alcohol. The effects of alcohol bloating reduces based on how the body metabolizes the alcohol consumed. Factors controlling the metabolizing are the health conditions of the patient, age of the patient, gender and weight of the patient. If the symptoms persist and cause difficulty in daily routine activities, it is always best to take medical advice from a healthcare provider.

The health care provider asks for the onset of the symptoms, duration of the situation, any aggravating and relieving factors present or not, and the amount of alcohol consumed. The doctor does a physical examination of the stomach. From the history and physical examination, the doctor comes to the diagnosis that it is alcohol bloating. Sometimes, to confirm the intake of alcohol, the doctor will ask to do a blood test.

What Are the Treatment Modalities?

  • As a main step to avoid the discomfort of alcohol bloating, doctors advise the patient to drink plenty of water. The water content in the body helps to metabolize the alcohol faster. Another reason to consume water is that alcohol is a diuretic product that causes dehydration. Rehydration is done with the intake of water.

  • Some home remedies can be considered a treatment option for alcohol bloating.

  • Ginger can be taken as a small piece or in crushed form. It helps to get rid of alcohol bloating to some extent. Ginger also helps to relieve any indigestion present.

  • Turmeric can be added to water and can also be considered a home remedy.

  • The alcohol irritates the stomach and causes acid production. This acid production can be lowered with the help of certain medications. Proton pump inhibitors act by blocking the acid production in the stomach. The commonly used drugs are Omeprazole and Pantoprazole. Antacids are medications that are prescribed to patients to neutralize the acid produced. Histamine blockers are also considered. It is known as H-2 blockers. It acts by decreasing the acid produced in the stomach. The mainly used drugs are Famotidine and Cimetidine.

  • Probiotics are considered a treatment of choice to improve the good bacterial status in the stomach. It also helps to eliminate bad bacterias, which improves the health of the stomach and avoids bloating.

  • Sometimes, antibiotics are also considered as a medication.

What Are the Preventive Measures?

  • Limit the amount of alcohol consumed, or do not consume alcohol.

  • Avoid using carbonated drinks like soda along with alcohol which can cause bloating.

  • After intake of alcohol before going to bed, it is always good to do a little bit of exercise or even a short walk to prevent bloating.

  • Avoid smoking and alcohol drinking together. Smoking is a bad habit that seriously impacts the individual's health.

  • Reduce the intake of alcohol in hungry mode or empty stomach.

  • Food substances taken along with alcohol should be eaten slowly to prevent bloating.

  • Avoid having high spicy content, gas-forming food substances, along with alcohol.

  • After having alcohol try taking a good quantity of water inside.

  • Intake of probiotics can be considered as it improves the gut's overall health.

Conclusion

Alcohol bloating is a preventable type of disease state. It is usually seen in chronic drinkers mainly. People who occasionally drink small amounts of alcohol do not cause many problems. However, if this alcohol intake is causing problems in an individual's daily activity, it is always best to avoid alcohol for a good and happy life.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.

How to Get Rid of Alcohol Bloating?

Alcohol is dehydrating, so make sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after consuming alcohol. Proper hydration helps flush out toxins and can reduce bloating. Mixing alcohol with carbonated drinks like soda or sparkling water can increase bloating. Opt for non-carbonated mixers or choose alcohol on its own. Bloating is more likely to result from excessive alcohol consumption. Moderation is key to reducing the side effects. Set limits for and stick to them.

2.

How Much Time Does Alcohol Bloat Take to Dissipate?

The duration of alcohol bloating can vary from person to person and depends on several factors, including the amount of alcohol consumed, individual metabolism, hydration levels, and overall health. In general, alcohol bloating typically subsides within a few hours to a day after alcohol consumption.

3.

What Is the Reason for Bloating After Drinking Alcohol?

Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it will increase urine production and can lead to dehydration. When dehydrated, the body tends to retain water, which can result in bloating and puffiness. The normal functioning of the digestive system might be interrupted by alcohol. It can irritate the stomach lining, decrease the production of digestive enzymes, and slow down the movement of food through the digestive tract. These effects can contribute to bloating and feelings of discomfort. 

4.

What Is Known as an Alcohol Belly?

The term "alcohol belly" is colloquially used to describe the appearance of a protruding or distended abdomen that is associated with excessive alcohol consumption. It refers to the accumulation of fat in the abdominal area, often accompanied by bloating and a larger waistline.

5.

What Are Initial Signs of Liver Damage Due to Alcohol?

Liver damage from alcohol can occur gradually over time due to chronic and excessive alcohol consumption. Feeling tired and lacking energy is a common early symptom of liver damage. The liver plays a vital role in energy production, and when it becomes impaired, it can lead to feelings of fatigue and weakness. Individuals with liver damage may experience abdominal pain or discomfort. The discomfort in the upper right abdominal quadrant, where the liver is located, might vary from a dull aching to a more persistent, sharp pain. Early liver damage may cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and occasional vomiting.

6.

Does Alcohol Cause Gas?

Yes, alcohol can contribute to the production of gas in the digestive system, leading to bloating and discomfort. Some types of alcohol, such as beer and wine, contain carbohydrates that can undergo fermentation in the digestive system. This fermentation process can produce gas as a byproduct, leading to bloating and flatulence.

7.

Is Bloating Reduced by Alcohol Abstaining?

Yes, quitting alcohol can help reduce bloating in many individuals. Bloating is a common side effect of alcohol consumption, and it is often caused by factors such as fluid retention, gas production, and impaired digestion.

8.

Could Alcohol Cause Face Puffiness?

Alcohol can contribute to face puffiness or facial swelling in some individuals. While alcohol initially acts as a diuretic, excessive alcohol consumption can disrupt the body's fluid balance. It can cause the body to retain fluids, leading to facial bloating and puffiness. 

9.

Does Alcohol Bloating Lead to Weight Gain?

Alcohol bloating itself does not directly cause weight gain in terms of increased body fat. Alcoholic beverages can be high in calories. Regularly consuming alcohol, especially in large quantities or mixed with sugary beverages, can lead to an increased calorie intake. Excess calorie consumption, regardless of the source, can contribute to weight gain over time.

10.

What Does Bloating From Alcohol Feel Like?

Alcohol bloating can vary in sensation from person to person, but it typically involves feelings of discomfort and a sensation of fullness or tightness in the abdomen. Bloating often leads to a visible or palpable swelling or expansion of the abdomen. The abdomen may feel tight, stretched, or larger than usual. 

11.

How to Prevent Bloating While Consuming Alcohol?

Limit alcohol intake to moderate levels. Stick to recommended guidelines for safe alcohol consumption, such as no more than one standard drink per day for women and up to two standard drinks per day for men. Stay well-hydrated by drinking water before, during, and after consuming alcohol. Proper hydration can help reduce fluid retention and mitigate bloating. Eat a balanced meal before drinking alcohol. Include foods that are rich in protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. This can help slow down alcohol absorption and promote better digestion. Avoid consuming salty snacks while drinking. Salt can contribute to fluid retention and bloating. Opt for healthier snack options or avoid snacking altogether.
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Dr. Ghulam Fareed
Dr. Ghulam Fareed

Medical Gastroenterology

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