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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.
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:
Hangover symptoms vary from person to person depending on several factors:
Some common hangover symptoms include:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
Drinking excessively and throwing up can negatively affect your electrolyte balance, worsening any metabolic issues.
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.
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:
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.
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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