We’ve all been there – a night of fun and celebration that ends with the unfortunate experience of throwing up after drinking.
Whether you’re an occasional drinker or not, throwing up after drinking can be an uncomfortable and confusing experience. Understanding this common issue, however, can empower you to make informed decisions about your alcohol consumption.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the science behind alcohol-induced vomiting, explain the causes, how long it typically lasts, and when it’s crucial to seek medical assistance.
Why Do I Throw Up After Drinking?
While throwing up after drinking can be worrisome, it’s a pretty common issue with several underlying causes.
Here’s the scientific explanation: The liver processes alcohol by converting it into a highly reactive, toxic alcohol compound called acetaldehyde. When you consume a large amount of alcohol quickly, it’s hard for your body to process this toxic chemical, causing you to throw up.
In essence, though, throwing up after drinking is the body’s way of ridding itself of a harmful substance: alcohol. Vomiting is indeed a natural and protective mechanism the body employs to eliminate substances it perceives as harmful or toxic. When you consume excessive alcohol quickly, for instance, your body might interpret it as a toxic metabolite and, in response, trigger the vomiting reflex to remove it. This is an essential way your body looks out for your well-being and attempts to maintain balance and safety.
What Factors Cause You to Vomit After Drinking?
No two people are the same—what causes one person to vomit after drinking might be vastly different than what makes another person vomit after drinking.
Factors such as individual tolerance, overall health, genetics and the amount of alcohol consumed can influence whether or not vomiting occurs after drinking. However, common causes include:
Alcohol intoxication occurs when you consume excessive amounts of alcohol in a short period of time—we often call this being “drunk.” In more scientific terms, your blood alcohol level may be around 0.2 – 0.3%, causing nausea, vomiting and impaired coordination.
Alcoholic ketoacidosis is a severe condition that can result from excessive alcohol consumption, particularly in the absence of food. It can lead to symptoms such as vomiting and abdominal pain.
This condition is caused by a buildup of ketones in the blood, which can be toxic. Vomiting can be one way the body tries to eliminate these harmful substances.
Alcohol is a known irritant to the stomach, and excessive drinking can lead to gastritis, which is an inflammation of the stomach lining.
This inflammation can cause nausea, abdominal pain, and, in severe cases, vomiting.
Other Medical Conditions
Throwing up after drinking may also be linked to underlying medical conditions, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), pancreatitis, or peptic ulcers.
Some individuals, too, may have a lower tolerance to alcohol or be more sensitive to its effects, making them prone to vomiting even with moderate alcohol consumption.
How to Avoid Throwing Up After Drinking
There are lots of ways to prevent and avoid throwing up after drinking:
- Drink in moderation: Before embarking on a night out, understand and set limits around your consumption (i.e., “I will only have two drinks tonight”), and be mindful of the alcohol content of each drink.
- Eat a meal beforehand: Be sure to eat before drinking—opt for a balanced meal that includes carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
- Drink non-alcoholic beverages: Consider drinking mocktails or incorporating other non-alcoholic beverages into the mix. Plus, be sure to drink plenty of water.
- Establish an accountability buddy: Have a trusted friend you’ll be with? Ask them to help you keep track of your alcohol intake and remind you to incorporate non-alcoholic beverages throughout the night.
- Avoid mixing substances: Combining alcohol with other substances, such as medications or recreational drugs, can increase the chances of vomiting and other adverse effects.
- Stop drinking: One of the best ways to stop throwing up after drinking is to abstain from drinking altogether.
What Should I Do If I’m Vomiting From Alcohol?
Though throwing up after drinking can be frightening, there are a few easy things you can do to help mitigate the effects:
- Stop drinking: The first and most crucial step is to stop consuming alcohol immediately. While “hair of the dog” might temporarily fix your nausea, continuing to drink will only worsen the situation.
- Stay hydrated: Dehydration often accompanies vomiting, so try to sip on water or clear fluids like electrolyte-rich beverages.
- Rest and relax: Lie down in a comfortable and safe place. Resting and staying still can help your body recover.
- Try over-the-counter remedies: Consider using over-the-counter remedies like antacids to help soothe your stomach and reduce nausea.
- Seek Medical Attention: If your vomiting persists, or if you notice signs of severe alcohol poisoning such as confusion, slow or irregular breathing, or hypothermia, do not hesitate to seek immediate medical help. These symptoms can be life-threatening and require professional intervention.
- Deal with the hangover: If vomiting is part of a hangover, focus on rehydration, consume light, easily digestible foods, and get plenty of rest to help alleviate hangover-related nausea.
FAQs: Throwing Up After Drinking
How long will throwing up after drinking last?
The duration of vomiting after drinking can vary widely depending on individual factors and the underlying causes. In most cases, vomiting is a short-term reaction to the body’s attempt to expel alcohol or irritants. It typically lasts for a few hours, but it may continue until the stomach is empty, and the irritants are removed. If vomiting persists for an extended period or becomes severe, it is advisable to seek medical attention.
Why do I throw up after drinking even if I’m not drunk?
Vomiting after drinking doesn’t always depend on being intoxicated or “drunk.” It can occur due to various factors, such as alcohol’s irritant effects on the stomach lining, overconsumption, mixing alcohol with other substances, or the presence of underlying medical conditions like gastritis.
Even moderate alcohol consumption can lead to nausea and vomiting in susceptible individuals. It’s crucial to recognize that alcohol affects people differently, and vomiting can occur at different levels of alcohol consumption for various reasons.
When should I seek medical help for vomiting after drinking?
It’s essential to be attentive to your body and know when vomiting after drinking may require medical attention. Seek medical help if:
- Vomiting is persistent and lasts for an extended perioded, >24 hours..
- You notice signs of alcohol poisoning, including confusion, dizziness, weakness, temperature irregulation, chest pain/tightness and low body temperature.
- There’s blood in your vomit or signs of gastrointestinal bleeding.
- You have a pre-existing medical condition that may be exacerbated by vomiting, such as a history of ulcers or GERD.
Understanding and preventing throwing up after drinking—with Monument
Understanding how to drink in moderation and responsibly—or how to stop drinking completely—often requires a dedicated support system and the help of trained professionals.
With Monument, anyone can better understand their relationship with alcohol—and create a healthier one altogether. From online therapy to therapist-moderated support groups, Monument is designed to help you become a happier, healthier version of yourself.