Did you just poop with blood? If you are a heavy drinker or consume alcohol too frequently, experiencing blood in stool is not surprising.
Having blood in stool after drinking is a clear indication of some underlying medical condition that has resulted in gastrointestinal hemorrhage and thus needs your attention. Multiple reasons could lead to tearing of the GI tract, resulting in blood in stool, black stool, and even throwing blood with vomiting. These include gastroesophageal reflux disease, liver cirrhosis, IBS, colon cancer, hemorrhoids, etc.
But how does alcohol trigger it all?
This article explores the hidden interaction of alcohol with our sensitive tissues that ultimately lead to blood in the stool.
How Does Alcohol Affect The Gastrointestinal Tract? From Swallow To Bowels!
Soon after drinking alcohol, you might have observed extreme stomach ache, bloating, and many other GI issues. The reason lies in the metabolism of alcohol.
Soon after one drinks alcohol, its prime component, ethanol, gets metabolized in the liver and breaks down into acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is the prime ingredient that irritates the mucosa, the top lining of the GI tract, often leading to bleeding of surrounding capillaries and vessels.
This all ultimately results in either inflammation of sensitive tissues or tearing away.
In extreme cases, acetaldehyde can also disrupt gut bacteria production, leading to severe dysbiosis.
Common Conditions Associated With Blood In Stool After Drinking
According to an NAAA study, alcohol is known to irritate the mucosal lining, which causes various metallic changes in the functioning of the normal gastrointestinal tract. As a result, it can lead to various health problems, such as liver diseases, gastritis, hemorrhoids, and an increased risk of colon cancer.
So, here are some of the possible ways in which alcohol impairs the normal functioning of our GI tract, thus leading to the onset of various medical conditions, followed by blood in the stool.
Bowel Movements And Gi Tract Impairment
Once alcohol is ingested in our body, most of it is absorbed by the upper part of the stomach. However, if your stomach is already filled with food, or you have drunk too much, the excess alcohol is passed to the large intestine, which causes faster contraction and, thus, watery stools and less absorption of nutrients (diarrhea). This leads to the weakening of the GI tract and blood in the stool.
Another possibility behind blood in stools is liver cirrhosis.
When tolerated in the body, alcohol is metabolized in the liver, where its byproducts tear away the liver tissues, thus fueling the onset of various alcohol-related liver diseases, including liver cirrhosis.
In initial liver damage, the tissues try to repair themselves. But due to frequent alcohol consumption, metabolized products like acetaldehyde result in a permanent scar, leading to liver cirrhosis and, ultimately, a bloody stool.
And a study published in the Journal of Hepatology claims that excessive use of alcohol leads to an increased risk of various liver diseases, including liver cirrhosis.
Yes! You will probably be amazed to learn that alcohol is responsible for causing bowel cancer in every 1 in 7 people.
The excess alcohol, when not absorbed by the bloodstream, passes on and damages the bowel (colon and rectum) lining, eventually producing cancerous tumors.
Other than these, peptic ulcer, diverticulosis, and gastroesophageal reflux disease also occur, but overconsumption of alcohol leads to a weakened gut lining and, thus, results in stool with blood.
The best and the only viable way to prevent blood in stool in the future is to cut off alcohol consumption completely. However, it won’t be possible for everyone.
So, here are some easy preventative steps to go for:
- Avoid taking more than one glass of alcohol daily, and reduce the amount further with time.
- Drink a lot of water. The reason is that since alcohol is diuretic, it can lead to dehydration. So, excessive water intake will help fight dehydration.
- Refrain from taking painkillers and NSAIDS after drinking alcohol. The reason is that these tablets can further damage the sensitive mucosal lining. Instead, it would be best if you go for a cup or two of mint tea. It helps to reduce nausea, stomach ache, and bloating that one often experiences after putting in too much alcohol.
- Try replacing alcohol with soft drinks slowly.
- Quit smoking, as it further damages the gut lining and also contributes to peptic ulcers.
Have you tried all the above prevention, but the problem of blood in stool persists? It means there is a prompt need to visit a gastroenterologist for proper diagnosis and treatment.
The treatment usually involves:
For people with less damage to the gut lining, doctors prefer prescribing them medicines like proton pump inhibitors, antacids, H2 blockers, etc. All these work by reducing the production of stomach acid, thus promoting the healing of the gut lining and alleviating conditions like blood in the stool.
If medications don’t work for you, or you experience massive blood loss while passing stool, gastroenterologists go for Endoscopy.
The inside of the digestive tract is examined by inserting a camera, and they look for signs like polyps, ulcers, and other medical problems that might be causing blood in the stool. Once the root cause is identified, they undergo further treatment (injections or surgery).
Colon Cancer Surgery
Where most abnormalities are handled using medicines and intravenous injections, colon cancer always needs surgery. So, if endoscopy confirms the presence of any cancerous tumor in the rectum or colon, surgery is done to remove the tumor and nearly infected lymph nodes, if any.
To cut it short, blood in stool after drinking clearly indicates some underlying medical condition, such as an infection of the GI tract, liver cirrhosis, or in the worst case, colon cancer.
In some cases, the problem of bloody stool may subside by reducing alcohol intake and adopting a better lifestyle. However, if it doesn’t, it is recommended to seek timely medication attention.
I am a passionate beer connoisseur with a deep appreciation for the art and science of brewing. With years of experience tasting and evaluating various beers, I love to share my opinions and insights with others and I am always eager to engage in lively discussions about my favorite beverage.