Throwing up after drinking alcohol is usually helpful, as it removes alcohol from the body before the body absorbs it. Sipping water from time to time and eating small bits of easily digestible foods may help a person recover from vomiting.
Throwing up when drunk or in the morning after a night of drinking is not a disease. Instead, it signifies that the body is getting rid of toxins in the alcohol.
Typically, a person will naturally feel better after throwing up from drinking. However, vomiting can cause bodily damage, and a person should not try to make themselves sick on purpose.
Whether intentionally or naturally, vomiting can trigger signs and symptoms in people differently.
Keep reading to learn more about the causes, risks, and benefits of throwing up after drinking alcohol. This article also covers remedies and treatments for throwing up from drinking alcohol.
Binge drinking or consuming excessive amounts of alcohol within a short period can cause vomiting.
According to the
Throwing up or vomiting after drinking alcohol is the body’s natural way of removing potentially harmful material.
When the body processes alcohol, the liver converts it into a highly reactive, toxic chemical called acetaldehyde.
However, the liver can only process a certain amount of acetaldehyde at a time. If the acetaldehyde levels are higher than the liver can convert, the body will remove the excess chemical by vomiting.
This high rate of elimination of toxic chemicals can be due to a high level of activity from enzyme systems.
There are other reasons a person may throw up after drinking alcohol, including the following factors:
Drinking alcohol can also cause a person’s stomach to produce more acid than it would typically. This acid buildup can irritate and erode the stomach lining, causing mucosal inflammation known as gastritis.
A primary symptom of alcohol-induced gastritis is heartburn or recurrent stomach pain, ranging from a burning ache to stabbing pain after drinking.
- stomach pain
- gastrointestinal bleeding
Following a stretch of heavy drinking, people with AKA often cannot tolerate food for 1–3 days. During this period, low glycogen stores and a lack of oral intake can shift the body from metabolizing carbohydrates to fats and lipids.
This increases lipid metabolism and hormone-sensitive lipase activity, leading to the accumulation of ketoacids.
People with AKA may have other symptoms, including:
Without prompt treatment, AKA can be life threatening. Anyone who thinks they might have AKA should contact a doctor immediately.
Vomiting after drinking can help prevent alcohol poisoning, a potentially fatal consequence of drinking too much alcohol over a shorter period. Alcohol poisoning can cause a person’s blood alcohol level to spike, causing areas of their brain that support essential life functions to begin to shut down.
- mental confusion
- difficulty remaining conscious or blacking out
- bradypnea, or slow breathing, meaning fewer than eight breaths per minute
- irregular breathing, with 10 seconds or more between breaths
- a slow heart rate
- wet or clammy skin
- dulled responses
- no gag reflex
- an extremely low body temperature
- blue or pale skin
Without treatment, alcohol poisoning can cause permanent brain damage or death.
If a person is with someone exhibiting any of these symptoms after drinking a large amount of alcohol, they should immediately dial 911 for medical assistance.
Throwing up naturally after drinking may help relieve symptoms of excess alcohol in the bloodstream. Generally, a person may feel better after throwing up the alcohol.
If a person throws up shortly after drinking, the body may not have absorbed the alcohol, potentially lessening its effects.
However, the drawbacks and risks of throwing up after drinking alcohol outweigh any possible benefits, whether someone vomits intentionally or naturally.
Hangover symptoms should stop about 24 hours after a person stops drinking. As such, feelings of nausea should stop within 24 hours.
However, if a person still feels nauseated more than a day after drinking alcohol, it may signify the onset or progression of a medical condition, and they should speak with a doctor immediately. A doctor can help rule out an underlying cause.
While vomiting can be discomforting, it is the body’s natural protective reflex against poisonous substances.
These neurotransmitters stimulate the contraction of the diaphragm and abdominal muscles to forcefully evacuate the excess toxins through the mouth until the body feels satisfied that it has gotten rid of them.
After vomiting, the body releases endorphins to help cope with stress and reduce discomfort. In response to vomiting, endorphins further elicit pleasurable sensations that make a person feel better.
As with other causes of vomiting, a person who vomits after drinking is at risk of potentially serious side effects. These include:
While vomiting, a person can expel any ingested food in the stomach with the excess alcohol. People who vomit may experience malnutrition since they can have difficulty keeping food down.
By forcefully ejecting fluids through the mouth, gastroesophageal reflux can reroute gastric contents through the trachea and into the lungs. If a person breathes in their vomit, they
Lung aspiration can increase a person’s risk of lung infection and hepatic tissue damage.
Also, if someone passes out due to alcohol poisoning during or after vomiting, they can unknowingly inhale their vomit into their lungs and choke to death.
- a dry, sticky mouth
- a swollen tongue
- a headache
- dry skin
- weight loss
- dark, yellow urine
Although a person may think it seems like a good idea to trigger their gag reflex when feeling nauseated, health experts warn that people should not make themselves throw up without first consulting a medical professional.
People who induce vomiting by sticking an object down their throat risk scratching or puncturing their esophagus.
A person who regularly makes themselves throw up
- an electrolyte imbalance
- throat damage
- tooth decay
However, if a person naturally feels as though they need to vomit, they should not stop the feeling or try to prevent themselves from throwing up if they feel the need to do so.
Occasionally, a person may have a preexisting condition that can cause them to vomit after drinking only small amounts of alcohol. These conditions include:
Alcohol intolerance is a condition that prevents a person from processing alcohol properly.
Symptoms of alcohol intolerance that may appear when drinking include:
- low blood pressure
- facial redness
- hives, itchy bumps on the skin
- worsened asthma in people who have asthma
A person may also be intolerant of certain ingredients in the alcohol, such as grains, sulfites, and preservatives.
Mixing alcohol with other drugs, including prescription, over-the-counter, and recreational drugs can be
Taking alcohol with other drugs can cause the following reactions:
A person should always ask a doctor or read the enclosed leaflets from any drugs they are taking before drinking alcohol.
Recreational drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, can cause severe damage and even death when a person mixes them with alcohol.
Additional health issues
Specific health conditions can cause a person to feel sick and vomit when they drink alcohol. Alcohol can irritate the lining of the stomach, causing preexisting conditions, such as gastritis or stomach ulcers, to flare up.
The best thing a person can do to decrease the effects of alcohol is to drink in moderation or abstain from drinking altogether. Drinking no more than 14 units of alcohol per week can help reduce a person’s risk. The limit of 14 units of alcohol is equivalent to about six pints of beer or 10 glasses of wine.
Eating before drinking alcohol can help slow the rate at which the body absorbs alcohol, reducing its effects. Drinking water or soda between alcoholic drinks may also lessen the alcohol’s effects.
Other tips that can help people who are vomiting include sucking on ice cubes or sipping water every 15 minutes or eating small bites of foods that are easy to digest, such as toast.
Some people claim that various remedies and treatments help them become sober. However, the methods people often use to sober up, including drinking coffee, taking a cold shower, or “walking it off,” can do more harm than good.
Caffeine, for example, may further aggravate alcohol-induced dehydration. If a person is drunk, they may have trouble balancing, so walking it off may lead to accidents and severe injury. Alcohol decreases a person’s body temperature, which a cold shower could lower even further, possibly leading to hypothermia.
There are many reasons why a person may vomit after drinking alcohol. Although it may help a person feel better, throwing up from drinking can cause serious health problems.
A person should not force themselves to vomit during or after drinking, even if they feel nauseated.
Anyone who experiences any of the symptoms of alcohol poisoning should contact a doctor immediately.