Digestive Disorders / Gastroenterology Expert Forum
Alcohol and Stomach Cramps
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Alcohol and Stomach Cramps

I am a 36 year male and would like to ask about problems I have the day after drinking alcohol - specifically beer (lager). Basically, the next morning I either have diarrhoea or just general loose movements. This is associated with stomach cramps that on occasion can wake me up. These cramps can occur throughout the day and because of this I constantly worry about whether I will be able to find a toilet. I also find this very embarrassing so I often avoid certain situations, especially if they involve going somewhere in the morning. This has been happening for over 15 years and in that time I have seen doctors and dieticians. I have had an endoscopy which did not highlight anything. I recently consulted a dietician on referral from my GP. She basically said that I have a sensitivity to alcohol and recommended Loperamide Hydrochloride. I have been using 2mg per day but it does not really make a great difference - I increased to 4mg but no further improvement. I have been honest with my doctor and the dietician in that I am a heavy drinker - over 100 units per week. However, I have a high tolerance to the effects of alcohol so I am not drinking to get drunk. I know that I drink far too much and that if a did not drink I would not have the problem but I consider drinking a lifestyle choice not a dietry one. I have a good general diet and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. I also take ranitidine for a hiatus hernia but there have been periods when I stopped taking this so I do not believe it is a side effect. I have also experimented with different drinks but this does not help. I also tend to eat my evening meal as late as 9.00pm. Is there anything I can do?  
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The endoscopy would rule out some of the more serious causes of diarrhea - such as inflammatory bowel disease, colitis, or any masses.  

You can consider more specialized testing to evaluate the loose bowel movements - including sending the stool off for infection as well as malabsorption.  A fecal lactoferrin level can help determine if the cause is inflammatory or not.  

A blood test can also be performed to rule out celiac disease as a cause for the diarrhea.  

Irritable bowel syndrome can lead to persistant diarrhea.  Anti-spasmodic agents can be considered if this is suspected by your physician.  

These options can be discussed with your personal physician.

Followup with your personal physician is essential.

This answer is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice - the information presented is for patient education only. Please see your personal physician for further evaluation of your individual case.

Kevin, M.D.
kevinmd_b
2 Comments
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Stop drinking alcohol - it wrecks havoc on your gastrointestinal system.
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Avatar_m_tn
You list a litany of physical problems that are clearly caused by your heavy consumption of alcohol yet you consider drinking a "lifestyle" choice? You choose to be sick and tired all the time? You choose to deal with an inability to control your bowels? Sounds like a pretty dismal "lifestyle" to me.
"heavy drinking" is called "alcoholism"
You will stop drinking when you get sick and tired of making yourself sick and tired. Why bother going to docs and taking additional medications when the simple truth is you drink too much and you are making yourself sick. Try to not drink any alcohol for a week. If you can't do that and find excuses to drink during that week then consider that it isn't a " choice" but rather an addiction to alcohol that you are dealing with. If you can't stop drinking, there is a lot of good, free help available. Only you can make that "lifestyle choice." Good luck to you.
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