Alcohol & Health
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Updated on February 4, 2023
7 min read

Throwing Up After Drinking

Why Do I Throw Up After Drinking Alcohol?

Throwing up after drinking is not uncommon because it takes work for our bodies to break down alcohol. Unfortunately, you’ll likely feel nauseous or experience vomiting if you drink too much.

An enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase works to break down alcohol as you consume it. First, it breaks it down to acetaldehyde, which is further broken down to acetic acid

The more alcohol you consume (and the faster you consume it), the harder it is for your body to keep breaking down alcohol dehydrogenase into acetaldehyde. You get drunk when you drink faster than your body can break down alcohol.

Throwing up from binge drinking is very common. Nearly one-third of American adults are excessive drinkers, though only 10 percent are considered alcoholics.13

Even if you do not have an alcohol addiction, excessive drinking is dangerous and can be life-threatening.


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5 Reasons You’re Throwing Up After Drinking

Enzymes in your liver work hard to break down the toxin that is alcohol. When alcohol is broken down in the liver, it turns into acetaldehyde. When the acetaldehyde levels are too high, your liver can’t process any more alcohol. Then, your body begins to eject the liquid toxins. 

There are 5 reasons why you may be throwing up after drinking:

1. Hangover Symptoms

Hangover symptoms vary from person to person depending on several factors:

  • How many drinks you consume
  • How hydrated you are
  • Your food intake before and while drinking
  • Your weight
  • Your age
  • Your sex

Some common hangover symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Excessive thirst
  • Dry mouth
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Palpitations
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Poor or decreased sleep
  • Increased sensitivity to light and sound
  • Dizziness
  • Shakiness
  • Decreased ability to concentrate
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability

It’s important to rehydrate your body if you are hungover. Fluids with added electrolytes, such as Gatorade or Pedialyte, can help to rehydrate and replace the salt and potassium you’ve lost from drinking alcohol. 

Drinking water, eating food, and practicing relaxation techniques can also help to alleviate your symptoms. 

2. Alcohol Intoxication Symptoms

Alcohol poisoning is a severe degree of alcohol intoxication. It is a serious condition that happens when you drink too many alcoholic beverages.

Binge drinking is a pattern of drinking that elevates your blood alcohol concentration (BAC), also known as your blood alcohol level, to .08 g/dL or above. Binge drinking can result in alcohol poisoning. 

The more drinks you consume in a shorter period, the higher and faster your BAC level will rise. As it does, you increase your chances of getting sick from alcohol. 

Typically, alcohol intoxication or poisoning symptoms include the following:

  • Confusion/stupor
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Slow or irregular breathing (less than eight breaths a minute or a gap of more than 10 seconds between breaths)
  • Blue-tinged skin or pale skin
  • Hypothermia (low body temperature)
  • Passing out or blacking out
  • Unconsciousness

Not everyone who has alcohol intoxication will experience every symptom. However, if you suspect someone has alcohol poisoning, call for medical help immediately. 

Alcohol poisoning can result in death if left untreated.

3. Alcohol Gastritis

Alcohol gastritis refers to inflammation of the stomach lining due to alcohol consumption. 

Alcohol can disrupt the mucus that covers the stomach lining, which causes stomach acid to disrupt surrounding cells. This can cause you to bleed and may make you throw up. 

4. Alcohol Intolerance 

Alcohol intolerance is genetic. It is caused by a deficiency of alcohol dehydrogenase, the liver enzymes responsible for breaking down toxins in alcohol. 

When your liver can’t metabolize these toxins, they remain in your bloodstream longer than usual. This can make you feel sick and throw up from drinking.

5. Alcoholic Ketoacidosis

Alcoholic ketoacidosis (AKA), also known as alcoholic ketosis or alcoholic acidosis, is a metabolic complication of alcohol use and starvation. 

AKA happens from heavy drinking on an empty stomach. However, it can lead to vomiting or worse, including sudden death.

How to Stop Throwing Up After Drinking

Throwing up is our system’s way of getting rid of a toxin. When we drink too much, our bodies want to rid themselves of the alcohol toxin. 

Rather than making yourself stop throwing up, consider ways to help you feel better while your body rids itself of alcohol.  

Some key ways to reduce vomiting and nausea include:

  • Rest. Sleep and relaxation can help your body recuperate faster.
  • Rehydrate. Sip water and other drinks with electrolytes slowly. These liquids can help your body hydrate effectively.
  • Eat simple foods. Try incorporating bland ingredients into your meals, such as crackers or toast. These foods may help you reduce the chance of vomiting again.
  • Take ibuprofen. Pain relievers can help with the negative side effects of a hangover. Consider taking the medication with food to avoid a more upset stomach.
  • Avoid the “hair of the dog.” The “hair of the dog,” or drinking when you wake up, is sometimes used to feel better. Give your system a break and allow it to recover after a night of throwing up.
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Benefits of Throwing Up After Drinking

Alcohol is a stomach irritant, so it’s normal to feel nauseous after drinking it. Throwing up can reduce stomach pain and nausea.

Sometimes, your body can’t absorb the alcohol you’re drinking quickly enough. In this case, vomiting is a natural response.

However, the risks of throwing up far outweigh the benefits.

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Risks of Throwing Up After Drinking

Vomiting after drinking can be dangerous. Alcohol depresses the nerves that control involuntary actions, so drinking too much can impair functions such as breathing and gagging. 

If it does, you can choke on your vomit, which could lead to death by asphyxiation (unable to breathe), especially if you are unconscious.

Once your BAC level hits about .25 or above, you may reach asphyxiation. Alcohol in your stomach and intestine continues to enter your bloodstream and circulate through your body, so “sleeping it off” isn’t always a safe bet.

Other risks and side effects of throwing up include:

Damage to The Esophagus (Food Pipe)

When you throw up, stomach acids come up the esophagus, damaging it over time. Alcohol causes esophagitis when the lower esophageal sphincter muscle is relaxed, allowing acid to come up from your stomach. 


Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it makes you urinate often. If you don’t drink enough water, alcohol can easily dehydrate you.

Metabolic Issues

Drinking excessively and throwing up can negatively affect your electrolyte balance, worsening any metabolic issues. 

Tooth Damage 

Excessively throwing up can cause tooth damage due to your stomach acid’s toxicity. Stomach acids are corrosive, which means they wear away at the enamel of teeth. 

Why Am I Throwing Up Blood After Drinking?

There could be a few reasons you throw up blood after drinking alcohol. 

Here are a few reasons why you might throw up blood after drinking alcohol:

  • Stomach ulcers: When stomach lining acid hurts the lining of the digestive tract
  • Duodenitis: When the first part of the small intestine becomes inflamed
  • Gastric erosions: When the tissue lining the stomach breaks down
  • Gastric varices: When the veins in the stomach enlarge
  • Gastritis: When the lining of the stomach becomes inflamed)
  • Mallory-Weiss tear: When the esophagus tears due to pressure from throwing up or coughing
  • Esophageal varices: Distended esophageal veins that may erode and bleed

If you or someone you know is throwing up blood after drinking, you should seek emergency medical attention. Vomiting blood could sign of a more serious health concern.

When to See a Doctor

If you or someone you know is struggling with an alcohol problem, seek professional help. 

Quitting drinking isn’t necessarily easy to do on one’s own. Many people experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms, which can be dangerous.

The most dangerous alcohol withdrawal symptoms happen to about one out of every 20 people. This condition is known as delirium tremens (DTs). It’s a rapid onset of symptoms like shaking, sweating, vomiting, hallucinating, and more.

DTs can be fatal. That’s why it’s important to seek medical assistance when struggling with a problem with alcohol. Inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation centers, support groups, cognitive behavioral therapy, and more are available to help.

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Updated on February 4, 2023
13 sources cited
Updated on February 4, 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. Mayo Clinic.“Alcohol Intolerance.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. 15 Apr 2020.
  2. Mayo Clinic. “Alcohol Poisoning.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. 19 Jan. 2018. 
  3. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “Drinking Levels Defined.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 26 June 2020. 
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Drinking Too Much Alcohol Can Harm Your Health. Learn the Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 30 Dec. 2019.
  5. Mayo Clinic. “Gastritis.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. 3 Apr. 2020. 
  6. MedlinePlus. “Hangover Treatment: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” U.S. National Library of Medicine. 
  7. Mayo Clinic. “Hangovers.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. 16 Dec. 2017. 
  8. McGuire, L C, et al. “Alcoholic Ketoacidosis.” Emergency Medicine Journal. June 2006. 
  9. Harvard Health. “Alcohol Withdrawal.” Harvard Health. April 22, 2019. 
  10. Regina Krel, M.D. “The Science of the Sauce: What Happens to Your Brain When You Drink Alcohol? - Brain Health, Health Topics, Neuroscience.” Hackensack Meridian Health, 26 Mar. 2019.
  11. Mayo Clinic. “Vomiting Blood Causes.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 22 Feb. 2020. 
  12. MedlinePlus. “Vomiting Blood: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  13. Harvard Health Publishing. “Heavy drinkers aren’t necessarily alcoholics, but may be “almost alcoholics” / November 21, 2014.

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