This article has been medically reviewed by Dr Robert Lefever, a world-leading addictions specialist.
Alcohol abuse is a spectrum of alcohol drinking behaviours. The excessive unhealthy use of alcohol includes heavy drinking, binge drinking, alcohol use by pregnant women or people under 21 years.
In contrast to these unhealthy excessive drinking behaviour, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans has mentioned what could be considered moderate drinking. According to these guidelines, moderate drinking is when men consume two or fewer drinks in a day, and women consume one or fewer drinks in a day.
However, drinking less is better than drinking more. Alcohol abuse can cause numerous health problems, including alcohol use disorders, chronic diseases such as liver cirrhosis, pancreatitis, high blood pressure, various cancers, and psychological disorders. Moreover, even alcohol abuse was a psychiatric disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
In addition to the issues mentioned above, many people also experience throwing up after drinking. Although vomiting after drinking alcohol is not uncommon, if it contains blood, then it is pretty dangerous. Approximately 150 per 100 000 people experience upper gastrointestinal bleeding annually, with a mortality rate of about 8%-14%. And people who are heavy alcohol drinkers are at greater risk of upper gastrointestinal tract bleeding and death ultimately. Moreover, an analysis of 220 000 or more natural deaths in Sweden concluded that the mortality rate due to alcohol-related illnesses is 17%.
Small streaks of blood in vomiting may not be an emergency. However, throwing up more significant amounts of blood after drinking could cause concern, and the individual must seek immediate medical attention. If you are struggling with alcohol-related issues, feel free to contact us today at Help4addiction.
What Causes Vomiting Blood After Alcohol?
Lifestyle choices, how much one drinks, and similar other factors can throw up after drinking alcohol. However, vomiting blood can signal the following complications:
Excessive alcohol consumption can cause gastritis which is the inflammation of the stomach lining. Although many people with gastritis don’t experience any symptoms, it can cause symptoms of indigestion including,
- Nausea or vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling full soon during or too full after a meal
- Weight loss
- Pain in the upper abdomen
But gastritis can lead to further damaging the stomach lining, due to which it starts bleeding. As a result, the individual may experience the following symptoms:
- Blood mixed with stool
- Pain or discomfort in the stomach
- Light-headedness, shortness of breath
- Blood in vomit
Another cause of vomiting blood due to regular drinking is an open sore, called an ulcer, in the small intestine, stomach, or oesophagus. Ulcers can cause intense pain and occur when the protective lining in any part of the gastrointestinal tract gets damaged.
Some of the symptoms of peptic ulcer include:
- Stomach pain
- Burning pain in the abdomen
The individual who consumes alcohol regularly, despite the amount, develops ulcers that can perforate the gastrointestinal tract lining. This perforation causes blood vomit after drinking. According to a study, men who consume one or two drinks daily are more likely to develop peptic ulcers.
Excessive alcohol consumption in a short time can cause retching. Retching is the reverse movement of the oesophagus and the stomach without vomiting. However, prolonged retching can damage the lining of the oesophagus, which can lead to bleeding. Hence, the individual may experience throwing up blood after drinking.
Oesophagal varices is a potentially dangerous condition in which veins become swollen in the oesophagus. One risk factor for the oesophagal varices is alcohol-related liver disease. And a heavy drinker is more vulnerable to damage to the oesophagus. These swollen veins can also lead to uncontrollable bleeding.
Most people, however, don’t know that they have oesophagus varices until these veins start to bleed. Moreover, severe and sudden bleeding can cause the individual to vomit a large amount of blood. Some of the symptoms of bleeding or damaged varices include:
- Black or bloody stool
- Vomiting large amount of blood
- Vomit resembling coffee grounds
With long-term regular use, alcohol increases liver diseases such as fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, and cirrhosis. According to a study in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, 10-25% of regular heavy alcohol drinkers develop alcohol-related liver disease.
Individuals with alcohol-related liver diseases experience different complications and symptoms, such as:
- Blood in the vomit
- Severe thirst
- Yellowing of the skin
- Black, or bloody stool,
- Liver damage and inflammation
Is It Alcohol Poisoning?
When an individual drinks excessive amounts of alcohol for a short time, alcohol poisoning can occur. It can not only severely damage the health but is also life-threatening. Moreover, in England, the leading cause of poisoning is also alcohol poisoning.
Some signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning are:
- Unresponsiveness while conscious
- Slow breathing
- Loss of coordination
- Slurred speech
- Passing out
- Hypothermia (low body temperature)
- In severe cases, symptoms can be:
- Heart attack
- Severe hypothermia
- Severe dehydration leading to brain damage
- Stop breathing
- Low blood sugar level causing seizures
- Choking on vomit
Moreover, if an individual experience repeated retching and vomiting, this can cause tears in the blood vessels at the gastroesophageal junction. As a result, blood vomiting occurs.
How to avoid vomiting blood after alcohol consumption?
Alcohol addiction affects many people around the globe. Therefore, researchers have conducted many studies to determine different factors associated with its predisposition, precipitation, and treatment. Although there is no single cause for alcohol addiction, socioeconomic status, gender, race, and genetics can predispose an individual. In addition, it changes the brain and its neurochemistry.
Moreover, different factors determine the individual’s health, such as the frequency and quantity of alcohol a person drinks, the health of the individual, etc.
Also, the amount of alcohol one consumes varies from one person to another. As a result, some people are heavy drinkers, while others are moderate drinkers. Moreover, an individual can find it challenging to control the actions and their use, resulting in further worsening of alcohol-related problems.
Throwing up after drinking can indicate complications, as mentioned earlier, especially if you vomit blood. Vomiting blood means that your body has been damaged. In such cases, you need to follow up with your professional healthcare provider. This will help you and the healthcare provider to rule out the cause and find appropriate solutions.
On the other hand, if you have drunk alcohol and are worried about vomiting blood again, there are a few following things that you can do to avoid throwing up after drinking alcohol.
- Don’t mix other drugs and medications with alcohol.
- Don’t use alcohol as the only drink, instead stay hydrated and use water beverages as well.
- Your body has been damaged internally, of which blood vomit is a sign. Use bland food and avoid spicy foods to prevent irritation further.
- Don’t chug your drink. Instead, take small sips and drink slowly.
- To slow the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream and protect your stomach, make a habit of eating before you drink.
- Get ample rest. This will help you feel better. Also, avoid drinking on the day of a hangover.
Moreover, many people consider themselves moderate drinkers. Whereas they are not. As there are many different glass sizes and drinks available, it becomes difficult to know how many units of alcohol you are having.
In 1987, the idea of counting alcohol units was first proposed in the UK. According to which one unit is 8g or 10ml of pure alcohol. And an average adult body can process this amount in an hour, meaning that there should be little to no alcohol left in the blood in an hour. Moreover, the size of the drink and its alcohol strength determines the number of units it involves.
NHS has also provided low-risk alcohol unit guidelines, which are as follows:
- Don’t drink more than 14 units of alcohol in a week to keep the health risks minimum.
- If you are a regular drinker who consumes 14 units per week, spread these units for over three or more days.
- 1 or 2 episodes of heavy drinking a week increases the chances of death from accidents, injuries, and long-term illnesses.
- Go for many drink-free days every week if you want to cut down the amount of alcohol you drink.
However, cutting down on your drinks or abstaining from alcohol is not an easy task for most people. In this regard, many help centres have been developed that make the proper diagnosis and devise the right treatment plan individually for everyone. Moreover, treatment depends on how much one drinks and whether you are trying to give up drinking entirely or drink less. Following are some of the treatment options for alcohol addiction:
Suppose an alcohol-related accident, injury, or concern, brief intervention or short counselling sessions work for you. It lasts for about 5 to 10 minutes, covering the education of risks involves and the advice for different cognitive, emotional, behavioural, and drinking patterns. Moreover, keeping a drinking diary is also beneficial.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
CBT is a collaborative approach that works in collaboration with the client. It is a practical problem-solving approach for people with alcohol dependence. The individual learns to identify, avoid, and cope with triggers that cause the person to drink. Moreover, it also involves changing unhelpful thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and behavioural patterns associated with drinking.
12-step Facilitation Therapy
AA devised the 12-step facilitation program, which is effective group therapy for treating alcohol or drug addiction. These steps include ideas from religion and philosophy.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommended several medications for alcohol abuse treatment. Some of these medications include nalmefene, disulfiram, acamprosate, and naltrexone.
Some other treatment options include detox, group therapy, family therapy, etc. Conclusion:
Throwing up after drinking is every day, but vomiting blood can be a symptom of severe conditions. Some of the many underlying causes are alcohol-related liver diseases, peptic ulcers, gastritis, and oesophagal varices. If not treated early, these conditions can lead to death. Hence, if you are a regular drinker and experience, any such complication,help4addiction is here to help. Call us at 0203 955 7700 and start your consultation now.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. What causes throwing blood after alcohol consumption?
Q2. Should I be worried if I vomit blood in the morning/hangover?
Q3 What are the symptoms of liver damage?
Q4. What is moderate alcohol drinking?
Q5. Can someone die from throwing up blood after alcohol?
Q6. Can alcohol poisoning cause throwing up blood?
- Alcohol and Public Health
- PLOS ONE
- ACG Clinical Guideline: Alcoholic Liver Disease
- Alcohol poisoning
- Low-risk drinking guidelines
Alcohol drinking can lead to various health concerns, one of which is throwing up blood after alcohol consumption. It indicates severe underlying problems which need to be treated immediately. If you are also concerned about throwing up after drinking and vomiting blood, help4addiction offers a free callback service 24/7. So don’t hesitate and call us now.