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Updated on November 15, 2023
7 min read

Does Alcohol Consumption Cause Appendicitis?

Appendicitis is a relatively common medical condition that causes abdominal pain and is commonly resolvable through surgery. Appendicitis typically occurs due to infections in the digestive tract. However, if you’re wondering whether drinking alcohol can cause appendicitis, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we discuss the relationship between alcohol and digestion and what you should do if you have an inflamed appendix.

What is Appendicitis?

Appendicitis refers to the inflammation of the appendix and causes abdominal pain1. If left untreated, the appendix can rupture by tearing the lining (appendiceal perforation).

The most common causes of appendicitis are blockages caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites in your digestive tract. The lymph nodes swell, squeezing the appendix and limiting blood flow.

Trauma to the abdomen or genetic factors can also cause appendicitis. For instance, genetic factors can influence the strength of a person’s immune system. Individuals with poor immunity are at higher risk of developing appendicitis and infections.

Occasionally, tumors or stool can lead to appendicitis. The area then becomes swollen, limiting blood supply.

How Common is Appendicitis?

Appendicitis affects 1 in every 1,000 Americans between 10 and 302. Males are more likely to experience it, especially those with a family history of appendicitis. Children with cystic fibrosis are also more likely to develop the condition.

There’s no guaranteed way to prevent appendicitis. However, you can reduce your risk by:

  • Lowering alcohol intake
  • Avoiding hard-to-digest fatty food
  • Monitoring existing medical conditions
  • Staying hydrated
  • Engaging in regular physical activity

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Can Alcohol Trigger or Worsen Appendicitis?

There’s no evidence that alcohol causes appendicitis. However, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to various health problems, such as gastrointestinal upset, vomiting, ulcers, and other illnesses. Prolonged heavy alcohol consumption can also cause liver disease, inadvertently impacting the digestive system.

Are Certain Alcoholic Beverages Riskier Than Others?

Binge drinking, or excessive alcohol consumption, can lead to various complications in the GI tract and digestive system. No substantial evidence suggests that specific types of alcoholic beverages are riskier than others regarding the development of appendicitis symptoms.

Instead, the following may contribute to symptoms that affect your stomach and GI tract:

  • High alcohol content: Beverages with higher alcohol by volume (ABV) are more potent, leading to quicker intoxication and increased health risks.
  • Sugar: Cocktails and mixed drinks high in added sugars and calories can trigger diarrhea.
  • Carbonation: Beer and mixed drinks are carbonated and can cause bloating and discomfort.

While the variables above can compromise the GI tract and digestive system, they do not directly increase the development of appendicitis.

What Are the Symptoms of Appendicitis?

If you suspect you have appendicitis, below are a few symptoms to watch out for.

  • Pain in the abdomen starting around the belly button
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever and chills
  • Loose stool (diarrhea)
  • Trouble with bowel movements (constipation)
  • Trouble passing gas
  • Swollen belly

How Does Appendicitis Symptoms Progress Over Time?

Over time, pain around the belly button can move to the lower right side of the belly, making it difficult to walk, breathe, cough, or sneeze.

Failing to treat appendicitis can cause the appendix to burst. When the appendix bursts, the infection spreads throughout the abdomen, causing peritonitis. Alternatively, you might develop a pocket of infection called an abscess.


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Treatment Options for Appendicitis

Appendicitis requires immediate medical attention. This is why it’s vital to get a proper diagnosis. It’s not advised to take painkillers or self-diagnose.

Surgery is the most common treatment for appendicitis. Below are the two standard surgical procedures for removing the appendix4:

Open (Traditional) Surgery

During open surgery, the person receives anesthesia, and the surgeon makes an incision in the lower right-hand side of the belly to remove the appendix.

If the appendix ruptures, the surgeon will use a shunt (a small tube-like device) to drain pus and other fluids. Depending on the severity of the rupture, the shunt may remain in the belly for a few days.

Laparoscopic Method

Similar to open surgery, the laparoscopic method puts the person under anesthesia. Then, the surgeon makes several small incisions around the belly, using a camera (laparoscope) to look inside.

Trochars (narrow tubes) are inserted through the incisions, allowing the surgeon to use narrow instruments to cut and sew damaged tissue.

Are There Non-Surgical Treatments Available for Appendicitis?

Non-surgical treatments for appendicitis are ideal for poor surgical candidates or people with significant medical comorbidities.

For instance, people with mild or early-stage appendicitis may only require antibiotics to reduce the inflammation and infection5. However, non-operative or conservative management requires careful monitoring.


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How Long Does It Take To Recover From Appendicitis?

If the appendix hasn’t burst, recovery from an appendectomy typically takes 2 to 3 days, and many people go home the same day after a simple appendectomy.

Individuals with a ruptured appendix may require additional antibiotics. Individuals who receive an appendectomy need not change their diet, given that they live a healthy lifestyle.

How Long Should You Wait to Consume Alcohol After Treatment?

As a rule of thumb, you should avoid drinking alcohol for at least 1 to 2 days after an appendectomy. Even then, drinking alcohol can further infect the stomach lining.

Especially if you have underlying health conditions or take medications that interact with alcohol, it’s essential to be cautious. Some health conditions, such as liver disease or pancreatitis, may require long-term or permanent abstinence from alcohol.

Potential Complications of Mixing Alcohol and Medications

Mixing alcohol with post-surgery medications can lead to several potential complications and risks, including the following:

  • Reduced effectivity: Alcohol can interfere with pain relief and reduce the efficacy of antibiotics.
  • Increased sedation: Taking alcohol with painkillers and sedatives can increase drowsiness and impair cognitive function, putting individuals at high risk of accidents or falls.
  • Respiratory depression: Medications like opioids can slow the respiratory rate, with alcohol compounding this effect.
  • Gastrointestinal irritation: Combining alcohol with certain medications can cause stomach discomfort, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Liver strain: Consuming alcohol while taking medications can place additional strain on the liver, potentially affecting its ability to process and eliminate drugs from the body.

Whether or not you’ve consumed alcohol before an appendectomy typically won’t influence the healing process. However, you should take extreme precautions not to increase the risk of potential infection.

Consult your healthcare provider to confirm what your body can and can’t take while recovering.

Common Questions About Alcohol and Appendicitis

Does alcohol consumption directly cause appendicitis?

No. Alcohol consumption does not directly cause appendicitis.

How long does it typically take for appendicitis symptoms to manifest?

Many individuals report experiencing symptoms of appendicitis within a few hours or days. Common signs include abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, swollen lymph nodes, and loss of appetite.

Can stress or other lifestyle factors contribute to appendicitis?

While stress and lifestyle factors can exacerbate appendicitis, they aren’t direct causes of appendicitis.

Is it safe to drink alcohol after a month of appendix surgery?

It depends. While it’s safe to drink alcohol a month after an appendectomy, it’s best to consult with your healthcare provider first to avoid complications.

What foods and drinks should be avoided when experiencing appendicitis symptoms?

Avoiding food and drinks is generally advisable if you have appendicitis. Eating or drinking can stimulate the digestive system and cause inflammation.

After an appendectomy, you should avoid fatty foods, spicy/acidic foods, and dairy products, as these can irritate the stomach. Instead, have small, frequent meals and bland foods like brown rice, plain pasta, or toast.

What should I drink while recovering from an appendectomy?

Drink vegetable juices or ginger tea, known for their anti-inflammatory and medicinal properties.


Appendicitis is often the result of a blockage in the abdomen or large intestine. When left untreated, an inflamed appendix can rupture, causing further infections to spread to the entire abdominal cavity, which may lead to peritonitis.

While drinking alcohol can’t directly cause appendicitis, excessive consumption can exacerbate its side effects, increase pain, and complicate recovery. If you suspect that you have acute appendicitis, seek medical attention immediately.

During recovery, it’s best to avoid unhealthy food, excessive alcohol consumption, and activities that can lead to gastrointestinal upset. Consult your healthcare provider for a full list of beverages, food, or medications you should avoid.

Updated on November 15, 2023
5 sources cited
Updated on November 15, 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. Stringer, M.D. “Acute appendicitis.” Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, Wiley Online Library, 2017.
  2. Jones et al. “Appendicitis.” Statpearls (Internet), National Library of Medicine, 2023.
  3. Corfield, J. “Appendicitis” Britannica, 2023.
  4. Sauerland et al. “Laparoscopic versus open surgery for suspected appendicitis.” Cochrane Library, 2010.
  5. Wilms et al. “Appendectomy versus antibiotic treatment for acute appendicitis.” Cochrane Library, 2011.
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All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
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