If you suffer from IBS you will know that it can be a frustrating illness to have. While some people will only experience mild symptoms, others can experience chronic pain.
When it comes to IBS, there is no one size fits all, and everyone will experience it slightly differently. However, it is well known that alcohol can have a negative effect on the digestive system in general.
Given this, it is only natural to wonder whether alcohol can be a contributing factor in causing IBS. While it is difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of IBS, alcohol certainly can be a factor in aggravating IBS symptoms.
In this article, we will be exploring the links between alcohol and IBS in more detail, to provide you with some more clarity on this.
What is IBS?
IBS is an abbreviation for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. As it is an illness that affects the digestive system, it is something that people can feel a little hesitant to talk about. However, it is a fairly common illness, especially here in the UK.
There is no known cause for IBS, nor is there a specific cure. Given this, it can be a frustrating illness to suffer from and manage, especially if you experience severe symptoms.
However, with the correct medication, and cutting out foods that irritate the condition, it can be managed.
What are the symptoms of IBS?
There are a number of different symptoms that are linked to IBS. While some IBS sufferers will experience some of these symptoms, others will not. With IBS it can vary drastically from person to person, which is why it can often be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause.
Some of the most common symptoms that people with IBS experience include:
- Stomach cramps and pain
- Changes in bowel movements
- Excess gas
- Intolerances to certain types of food
Some people may experience all of these symptoms, while others will only experience some of them. In addition to this, some people may experience some of these symptoms one day, and others on different days.
Can alcohol cause IBS?
When it comes to irritable bowel syndrome, as it varies significantly, what may trigger someone symptoms, may not trigger someone else. Given this, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact cause. However, there are a handful of different things that trigger a reaction in many people who suffer from IBS.
If you have IBS or you believe you may be suffering from it, it is only natural to wonder whether alcohol can cause it. There is not a specific cause for IBS. Given this, it is not certain whether alcohol can cause it. However, many people do experience increased symptoms when they drink alcohol.
While alcohol has not been scientifically proven to cause symptoms of IBS, if your symptoms are severe, alcohol can contribute to the symptoms worsening. In general alcohol can irritate the digestive system and the lining of your stomach. When you combine this with the irritation of IBS, drinking alcohol can be unpleasant and painful.
Alcohol affects the digestive system in general in a number of different ways. It can speed up digestion which causes diarrhoea, and it can cause issues such as vomiting or acid reflux. Given this, alcohol does tend to be a severe trigger for many people that suffer from IBS, especially if a copious amount has been drunk.
Even if you only experience mild IBS symptoms, these can be worsened if you drink too much alcohol. While alcohol may not be a trigger for some, the likelihood of it affecting you if you have IBS is quite high.
When looking at whether it causes IBS, there have been links to alcoholism putting people at a higher risk of experiencing IBS due to the fact that alcohol weakens the digestive system.
However, in general, alcohol will tend to aggravate your digestive system and be a potential IBS trigger, rather than it being the sole reason why a person is suffering from IBS.
IBS is a complicated illness to have as it can be linked to so many triggers, which vary significantly from person to person. While some people may be able to drink a small amount of alcohol while having IBS, others cannot.
In addition to this, there may be certain types of alcohol that will affect a person’s IBS, such as beer or spirits, but they may be able to drink wine. The triggers vary dramatically from person to person.
Can you drink alcohol if you suffer from IBS?
Technically, yes, if you suffer from IBS you can still drink alcohol. However, whether this is a sensible idea will depend on how severely alcohol will affect your IBS and digestive system.
If alcohol has a severe effect, the best decision would be to avoid drinking alcohol completely as it will make you feel unwell. However, if it does not affect you too significantly, you can choose to drink alcohol in moderation.
As you come to terms with your IBS, you will begin to notice what alcohol or food triggers your IBS more than others. When you know this, you can avoid the alcohol that causes your IBS to worsen, and moderately drink the alcohol that causes the least amount of issues.
However, if you have any concerns about alcohol and your IBS, it is always best to speak to your local GP. They will be able to best advise you on whether you should be drinking alcohol while having IBS.
We hope that you have found this article useful. As you can see, the likelihood is that alcohol will worsen the effects of alcohol on your digestive system, rather than specifically causing it.
Given this, if you have severe IBS and alcohol is a trigger for you, it may be the best option to avoid drinking it altogether. We would always recommend speaking to your local GP if you have any questions or concerns regarding this topic.