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Throwing up after binge drinking is common. Heavy drinking leads to an increased risk of getting sick.
However, throwing up blood after drinking too much alcohol is not normal.
Although scary, vomiting blood after drinking may not be anything serious. And it is not necessarily linked to an underlying condition.
Still, it is important to determine where the blood in your vomit is coming from.
Vomiting blood is called hematemesis.5 It is typically red but can also look like coffee grounds, which is usually dried blood.11
There are a few reasons why you might throw up blood after drinking alcohol. Its important to note that throwing up blood is NOT a normal symptom of a hangover.
Here are five potential causes:
If you throw up a lot of blood, it could indicate that you have gastrointestinal bleeding.
Two tell-tale signs of gastrointestinal bleeding are vomiting blood and producing a bloody stool. You may notice the blood right away, especially if it’s bright red. Your bodily waste may also appear black or tarry.4
Gastrointestinal bleeding happens when there’s an issue with your digestive tract. One of the most common causes of upper gastrointestinal bleeding is a peptic ulcer.4
A peptic ulcer is a sore on the stomach lining or upper part of the small intestine. It can form due to stomach acid from bacteria or anti-inflammatory medications.4
Some common causes of lower gastrointestinal bleeding include the following.
Gastrointestinal bleeding can be a serious problem in certain circumstances. Depending on the severity of the bleeding, it may be life-threatening.
Liver damage like cirrhosis (severe scarring), or later-stage liver disease, can cause bloody vomit and stools.
Scar tissue causes blockages that back up bile in the liver and blood. This can cause the veins in your lower esophagus to swell.
Esophageal varices (enlarged veins) are a common symptom of late-stage liver disease. Excessive or aggressive vomiting can rupture them, so they bleed.
This is considered a medical emergency.
Left untreated, liver disease can lead to chronic health conditions. It can also be life-threatening.
Heavy alcohol consumption is linked to nosebleeds.7 This is because alcohol reduces platelet aggregation. In other words, it thins your blood and prevents it from clumping.
Alcohol prolongs bleeding.7 Changes in blood pressure from alcohol intake can also bring on nosebleeds.7
If you swallow blood from a nosebleed and vomit later on, you may notice the blood.
If you vomit too forcefully, the waste can irritate the tissue of your esophagus. Vomiting can cause scratches in your throat that bleed.
Violent coughing or vomiting that tears your esophagus is a condition called a Mallory-Weiss tear.6
Esophagitis, or inflammation of the esophagus, can also cause bleeding. It is most commonly brought on by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Gastritis refers to the inflammation of your stomach lining.3 It is very common. In fact, more than half of the world’s population deals with gastritis to some extent.9 More severe cases of gastritis can cause you to vomit blood.
Alcohol is a common cause of gastritis. This is because it irritates and erodes your stomach lining.
Of course, throwing up can cause pain and discomfort. This is especially true when throwing up is accompanied by other unpleasant side effects of drinking too many alcoholic beverages.
Other side effects of drinking alcohol in excess include:8
Vomiting blood after you drink alcohol can feel alarming.
Depending on the severity of the bleeding, your body could go into shock from throwing up blood. Your heart rate can jump, and your blood pressure can drop. Shock can cause unconsciousness.
Throwing up a lot of blood after drinking alcohol can also cause anemia. Anemia refers to a low red blood cell count (RBC). This means your blood cannot carry enough oxygen to your lungs or the rest of your body.2
Seek immediate medical help if you experience a sudden onset of bleeding or if it rapidly increases.
If you are throwing up a lot of blood or are experiencing any of these other symptoms, go to the emergency room:
You should also get emergency medical attention if you suspect alcohol intoxication. Do not try to help a person with alcohol intoxication on your own. An alcohol overdose can lead to serious health complications and death.10
Symptoms of alcohol intoxication are similar:10
Vomiting blood after drinking alcohol may not be cause for concern. But if bleeding occurs often while vomiting after drinking, talk to your doctor.
To receive a diagnosis, your doctor will need to examine everything from your digestive tract to your liver and gallbladder. Treatment depends on the underlying condition or other causes of throwing up blood.12
Regardless of any underlying health condition, cutting back on alcohol can help. One surefire way to stop excessive alcohol-induced vomiting is to stop drinking.
Alcohol use can cause a lot more than vomiting. It is linked to heart disease, liver disease, pancreas problems, and even some types of cancer.1
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol use, treatment is available. Search alcohol rehab facilities in your area. You can also talk to your doctor about treatment options.
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