Can you drink alcohol when you have IBS?

A diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome can be difficult to adjust to. It’s a manageable medical condition, but there’s no cure, and so patients must commit to making permanent lifestyle changes. Patients at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center receive the full support of our multidisciplinary team, and specialized care is available at Digestive Health Institute.

The problem with alcohol
It’s not recommended that patients with IBS consume alcohol, as alcohol is known to exacerbate IBS symptoms. According to the National Institutes of Health , at least one research study demonstrated an increase in IBS symptoms reported the next day among patients who had consumed alcohol the previous evening. The most severe IBS symptoms followed binge drinking episodes.

This particular study evaluated women between the ages of 18 and 48. It included study participants already diagnosed with IBS, as well as a healthy control population. The researchers identified binge drinking as consuming four or more beverages with alcohol during any given day.

The IBS symptoms that can occur
Alcohol is one of the possible triggers of IBS symptoms. Generally, patients experiencing a flare-up of IBS symptoms report:

  • Abdominal pain or cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Gas and bloating
  • Mucus in the stool
  • Feeling of an incomplete bowel movement
  • Loose stools

The recommended dietary changes for IBS patients
Avoiding alcoholic beverages is just one lifestyle change to make in order to successfully manage IBS symptoms. Patients are also advised to avoid or limit caffeine. Fruit juice, especially prune juice, is recommended for IBS patients with constipation.

Some IBS patients get good results following a low FODMAP diet. This diet limits the intake of carbohydrates that the body has trouble digesting. Consult your doctor about trying an elimination diet to determine if FODMAPs are giving your GI tract trouble.

FODMAPs are found in many foods, including:

  • Dairy products
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Wheat and rye
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Mushrooms

Digestive Health Institute at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center emphasizes the role of patient education in managing chronic digestive disorders like IBS. Our board-certified, fellowship-trained physicians are committed to providing the superior, patient-centered care you deserve. Call our hospital in Las Vegas at (702) 233-5300, and request a physician referral.

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