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Updated on August 1, 2023
7 min read

What Does It Mean When You Throw Up Yellow Bile After Drinking

Ellie Swain
Elena Borrelli M.S.PAC
Written by 
6 Sources Cited
Ellie Swain
Written by 
6 Sources Cited

What Does Throwing Up Bile Mean?

If you're vomiting a greenish-yellow liquid after a night of excessive drinking, you may be vomiting bile. Bile is a fluid produced in your liver and stored in the gallbladder.

The fluid travels to your small intestine, where it helps break down fats into smaller forms called fatty acids. These are absorbed into the digestive tract.

Bile consists of:

  • Bile salts
  • Bilirubin (a yellowish pigment made during the breakdown of red blood cells)
  • Cholesterol
  • Electrolytes
  • Water

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Why is My Vomit Yellow After Drinking?

A common cause of throwing up yellow puke is bile reflux. This condition occurs when bile backs up from your liver into your stomach and esophagus.

It’s possible to develop reflux following gastric surgery.1 Bile reflux can also occur in a person with a history of prior gallbladder removal.

Bile reflux is different from acid reflux. Acid reflux occurs when acid backs up from your stomach into your esophagus. However, it’s possible to have both conditions together.

Other Potential Causes of Yellow Vomit After Drinking

Aside from excessive alcohol consumption and bile reflux, yellow vomit has other potential causes. This includes vomiting on an empty stomach.

However, there are also medical conditions that can cause you to vomit bile. These include:

  • A blockage in the intestines: A blockage in your intestines occurs from adhesions, which are areas of band-like scarring that can develop in your intestines following abdominal or pelvic surgery
  • Cancer: Colorectal cancer and other cancerous tumors can grow big enough to block part of the intestines
  • Diverticulitis: Diverticulitis causes small pouches to develop in the intestinal wall
  • A hernia: A hernia is a weakening part of the abdominal wall which causes part of the intestine to bulge through the muscles of the abdomen or another area of the body
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can lead to inflammation in the intestine
  • Volvulus: Volvulus is a twisting of the intestine 
  • Food poisoning: Consuming contaminated food or water which causes vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever

Signs And Symptoms Of Throwing Up Bile After Drinking Alcohol

The following may be signs of bile reflux due to a hangover:

  • Yellowish green liquid
  • Burning sensation in the chest and throat (irritation caused by digestive fluids to the esophagus)
  • Coughing pain in the upper abdomen (occurring from puking bile causing inflammation in the stomach lining)

Symptoms of throwing up bile during a hangover are different from nausea that occurs due to:

  • Food poisoning 
  • Motion sickness
  • Pregnancy
  • Stomach infection

Understanding the signs of bile reflux helps to be conscious of the severity of the situation and whether medical attention is necessary. It shouldn't be ignored if you experience a hangover involving puking yellow bile.


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Risks of Throwing Up Bile After Drinking Alcohol

Any nausea and sickness is a cause for concern, especially if it involves repeated throwing up of yellow bile during a hangover. Throwing up digestive fluids can occur simply due to having an empty stomach, which isn’t dangerous. 

However, there are several risks when it becomes frequent and occurs due to a hangover with yellow bile. These risks are more likely if you throw up yellow bile frequently and persist even when there’s no hangover.

Risks of throwing up yellow bile after drinking include:

  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Bleeding
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Severe heartburn
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Mental stress

Those suffering from alcoholism are prone to vomiting blood following drinking. This is due to the ruptured esophageal veins that develop due to frequent bile vomiting episodes. If not treated or managed, vomiting bile can cause long-term damage to the esophagus and overall health.


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What to Do if You’re Throwing Up Yellow Bile After Drinking Alcohol

You can take several steps at home to recover from throwing up yellow bile after drinking. These include:

Rehydrating or Staying Hydrated

Drink small amounts of fluids and gradually increase the amount to avoid irritating the stomach further. If vomiting persists for over 24 hours, you may be dehydrated and need increased oral or Intravenous (IV) fluid.

Treating dehydration of the body after throwing up yellow bile from drinking is essential. This is particularly important if you’re experiencing diarrhea after drinking too.

Try to drink liquids like:

  • Water
  • Fresh broths
  • Energy drinks
  • Coconut water

Avoid citrus drinks and milk. These liquids can be hard on the digestive system after a hangover.

Eating Easy to Digest Food

After experiencing a yellow bile hangover, it’s important to be careful with your diet to assist with recovery and regain strength quickly. Avoid any foods that are hard to digest.

Be sure to eat slowly while chewing well to help the weakened digestive system. It’s best to consume foods that aren’t too fragrant or flavored. They should also be at room temperature.

Medical Treatments For Throwing Up Bile

The medical treatment for throwing up yellow bile depends on what causes it. If you’ve been binge drinking or have food poisoning, you may need intravenous fluids and electrolytes at a healthcare facility.

Treatment for Bile Reflux

If you have bile reflux, you might need one of the following medications:

  • Ursodeoxycholic acid: This drug helps the bile flow more easily through your body; however, it can cause side effects such as diarrhea
  • Bile acid sequestrants: These medications disrupt the circulation of bile; they can cause side effects like bloating

If medications don’t improve the problem, you might need surgery. One type of surgery that may be recommended for treating bile reflux is roux-en-Y gastric bypass.

This surgery is also used to treat obesity. It produces a new connection to the small intestine to stop bile from draining into the stomach.

Treatment for Adhesions or Blockage in your Bowel

There are also surgeries for adhesions or a blockage in your bowl. The surgeon will extract the cause of the obstruction. They may also remove a part of your intestine if it’s damaged.

Treatment for Cancer

Diagnosing the type and extent of cancer early is useful in determining proper treatment options. This is because various cancers are treated differently.

Treatments for cancer include:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted therapies

How to Prevent Throwing Up Yellow Bile?

You can lower your risk of throwing up yellow bile by making certain lifestyle changes.

To reduce your risk of vomiting from drinking alcohol:

  • Avoid drinking more than one or two alcoholic beverages per day

To lower your risk of cancer, such as colorectal cancer:

  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables
  • Don’t smoke
  • Get screened with a colonoscopy or other test if you’re 45 years of age or older

To reduce your risk of developing a hernia:

  • Don’t lift objects that are too heavy

To lower your risk of diverticulitis:

  • Maintain a high-fiber diet

When to Call a Doctor

Call your doctor immediately if:

  • You’re vomiting bile and have symptoms of reflux
  • Experiencing chest pain
  • Having trouble breathing
  • Having severe pain in your abdomen
  • Puking material that’s red or appears as coffee grounds
  • Unexplained or persistent vomiting

Many of these symptoms require immediate medical attention and shouldn't be taken lightly. These can indicate an underlying medical condition or become severe very quickly. Your doctor can recommend personalized treatments depending on your symptoms and any other medical issues you have.


If you're puking greenish-yellow material after drinking, it may be bile. This typically happens due to excessive alcohol consumption and other conditions.

Although it can happen due to throwing up on an empty stomach, throwing up yellow bile can indicate an underlying medical condition. These conditions can become severe very quickly and require medical attention.

Fortunately, there are medical and at-home remedies that you can use to manage the aftermath of throwing up bile. Contact a doctor if your symptoms persist because it can damage your overall health if it isn't managed.

Updated on August 1, 2023
6 sources cited
Updated on August 1, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. Sifrim, D. “Management of bile reflux.” Gastroenterology & hepatology, 2013.
  2. Bishehsari et al. “Alcohol and Gut-Derived Inflammation.” Alcohol research: current reviews vol. 38,2, 2017.
  3. Van Schrojenstein Lantman, et al. “The impact of alcohol hangover symptoms on cognitive and physical functioning, and mood.” Human psychopharmacology, 2017.
  4. Roldán et al. “Intoxicación por alcoholes” Anales del sistema sanitario de Navarra vol. 26 Suppl 1, 2003.
  5. LaHood AJ, Kok SJ. Ethanol Toxicity StatPearls Publishing, 2022.
  6. Nallapeta et al. Diverticulosis Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing, 2022.
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