Ever had your bowels go funny after a night of drinking? This is why.

Image via iStock

Woken up from a night of drinking and had an undeniable and uncontrollable need to run to the bathroom to pee and, ah, relieve yourself?

Like the impressive rendition of ‘I Will Survive’ you belted out in the karaoke room, you can blame the alcohol.

As a diuretic drug, alcohol makes your body produce more urine, hence the urgent need to pee – a feeling that most people are all too familiar with.

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But its effect on your bowels? Much more surprising and much, much more gross.

In his book, "What's Your Poo Telling You?", gastroenterologist Anish Sheth, M.D calls the most common type of bowel activity the "Day-After-Drinking-Stool" or the cute acronym 'D.A.D.S' for short.

Characterised by "its semi-solid state and accompanying stomach discomfort", the good news is it's a signal of your body purging itself of the toxins and damage done the night before.

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So what's the reason behind its runny nature? According to Sheth, it's all down to the ethanol in alcohol, which has a stimulant effect on your bowel motility. (Post continues after gallery.)

"It basically revs up your intestines so that the contents move through more quickly," he says.

"This leaves less time for your colon to absorb water, and results in a profuse, watery stool."

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There's a silver lining, however; Sheth believes you'll generally feel better after the second D.A.D.S.

"Occasionally, the large carbohydrate load in alcoholic beverages can overwhelm your digestive enzymes and indirectly cause diarrhoea," he says. Great.

Usually, our bodies produce enough enzymes to break down the complex carbs found in the drinks, but when you're drinking large amounts, which are subjected to the accelerated digestive process caused by the ethanol, they can actually enter the large intestine before they are broken down.

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The resulting side effects include bloating, farting, cramping and of course, diarrhoea. Nice.

According to a 2000 study published on the National Centre for Biotechnology Information, even a small amount of alcohol can inhibit absorption of nutrients and fluids, and stimulate secretion of water and electrolytes. (Post continues after gallery.)


When it comes to minimising your risk of the runs, as well as reducing the amount your consume, your choice of drink can also make a difference.

Diarrhea isn't known as the "beersh*ts" for no reason — beer has a high carbohydrate content, which can vary from 10 to 15g per pint depending on the type.

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If you find you are having digestive trouble, switching to wine or spirits which have a lower carbohydrate content can be a good option — although of course, moderation remains the key.

It's all about moderation. Image via Will and Grace.

Unfortunately, some people are more affected by it than others.

While it's normal now and again, if you're experiencing bowel and digestive troubles on a regular basis, it could be a symptom of a larger problem, such as irritable bowel syndrome or coeliac disease.

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And if it's happening at times when you're not drinking, gastroenterologist Joseph B. Weidd M.D told Greatist it's probably time to consult your doctor.

Are your bowels affected by alcohol? What's been your worst experience?