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Throwing Up Blood After Drinking

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Is Throwing Up Blood After Drinking Normal?

Throwing up after binge drinking is common since heavy drinking often leads to vomiting. 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.

However, it's still 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

Sometimes swallowed blood from a nosebleed can cause bloody vomit. Other times having a strong or forceful cough can put blood in your vomit. However, truly vomiting blood usually means something more serious and requires immediate medical attention.

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What to Do Next?

Throwing up a little bit of blood isn't something you should worry about too much. At best, it could be something as simple as a nosebleed. However, it does warrant a visit to your doctor or local clinic.

Follow up on your healthcare provider to see if there isn’t some underlying health condition causing the bleeding. If you feel weak or anemic, you should go to the ER. If left untreated, anemia can lead to complications in your health.

If you or someone you know starts throwing up blood after drinking, it’s a good sign to stop. It’s also a good idea to stay hydrated and avoid drinking or eating something that can further irritate the stomach.

When to Go to The Emergency Room (ER) 

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:

  • Significant stomach pain
  • Extreme lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Severe weakness
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Clammy or pale skin
  • Rapid or shallow breathing

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
  • No gag reflex
  • Loss of consciousness or difficulty remaining conscious
  • Mental stupor
  • Seizures
  • Slow or irregular breathing
  • Slow heart rate
  • Clammy or pale skin
  • Low body temperature
  • Dulled responses
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5 Potential Causes of Throwing Up Blood After Drinking

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:

1. You have gastrointestinal bleeding

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 immediately, 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. A peptic ulcer is one of the most common causes of upper gastrointestinal bleeding.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.

  • Diverticular disease — This refers to the development of diverticulosis or small bulges in the digestive tract.4
  • Crohn's disease — Crohn's disease refers to the inflammation of gastrointestinal tract lining.4
  • Benign or cancerous tumors — Tumors anywhere in the digestive tract can cause bleeding.4

Gastrointestinal bleeding can be a serious problem in certain circumstances. Depending on the severity of the bleeding, it may be life-threatening.

2. You have liver damage

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 a medical emergency.

Left untreated, liver disease can lead to chronic health conditions. It can also be life-threatening.

3. You have a nosebleed

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.

4. You vomited too forcefully

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).

5. You have gastritis

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.

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Complications of Throwing Up Blood After Drinking

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

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Impaired vision
  • Groggy memory
  • Slurred speech
  • Impaired coordination and motor skills
  • Chest pain
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations

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

Diagnosis

Vomiting blood after drinking alcohol may not be a 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

Excessive alcohol use can cause other medical conditions and problems, too. It is linked to heart disease, liver disease, pancreas problems, some types of cancer, and chronic or permanent brain damage.1

How to Prevent Vomiting Blood After Drinking

Abstaining from alcohol is the most effective measure to prevent hematemesis. Reducing your alcohol intake can also help prevent throwing up blood.

Here are a few other things you can do to try to avoid vomiting blood:

  • Eat before drinking
  • Avoid mixing alcohol with other medications and drugs
  • Avoid drinking continuously
  • Take sips instead of chugging
  • Stay hydrated and alternate between water and alcoholic beverages
  • Avoid eating things that can upset or irritate your stomach

It may also help to remove other risk factors for bleeding, such as regular nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) use.

Treatment Options for Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

Treatment is available if you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol use. Search for alcohol rehab facilities in your area. You can also talk to your doctor about treatment options.

The most common types of treatment options for alcohol use disorder include:

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Updated on October 11, 2022
14 sources cited
  1. Alcohol's Effects on the Body.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  2. Anemia.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2021.
  3. Gastritis.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2020.
  4. Gastrointestinal Bleeding.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2020.
  5. Hematemesis.” MUSC Health | Charleston SC.
  6. Mallory Weiss Tear.” Cedars.
  7. McGarry, G W, et al. “Relation between Alcohol and Nose Bleeds.” The BMJ, British Medical Journal Publishing Group, 1994.
  8. Signs of Alcohol Intoxication.” Ada.
  9. Sipponen, Pentti, and Heidi-Ingrid Maaroos. “Chronic Gastritis.” Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, Informa Healthcare, 2015.
  10. Understanding the Dangers of Alcohol Overdose.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  11. Vomiting Blood: Medlineplus Medical Encyclopedia.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  12. Wilson, I. Dodd. “Hematemesis, Melena, and Hematochezia.” Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations. 3rd Edition., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1990.
  13. "Peptic ulcer disease." Cleveland Clinic,  2016.
  14. Saleem, Saad, and Abell L Thomas. “Management of Upper Gastrointestinal Bleeding by an Internist.” Cureus 2018.

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