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Date of last update: 10/15/2017.

Forum Name: Gastroenterology Topics

Question: Adverse reactions to alcohol after a period of constipation

 bowljd - Fri Oct 31, 2008 4:08 pm

Over the winter of 06-07 I went through a period of relatively severe constipation, beginning the second week of Dec. I had regular, daily movements up until this week, and continued to have problems (as bad as having only one bowel movement per 1 to 2 weeks) for several months. Over the year of 07 I slowly regained a regularity, but not of the sort I had prior to the onset. I still occasionally go through very brief periods of constipation, but nothing as extreme as what I went through that winter.

Since I the constipation began, literally beginning a week after, I have not been able to hold my alcohol. For years prior to my constipation I drank regularly, though not excessively, no frequent binge drinking, but only beer or two or a glass of wine. These drinks never really effected me; it would require at least three or four beers to get a buzz and maybe two or three glasses of wine. Since the constipation, nearly two years ago, I cannot even have a single beer without having my perception altered and my cognitive abilities slightly impaired--and wine has an even stronger effect. In addition, the effects usually take longer than 24 hours to dissipate. For example, if I drank a glass of wine now at 5pm, I would still feel the same slight intoxication tomorrow, but accompanied also by a headache.

Is there any possible connection between these two conditions? Is there anything I can do about the alcohol problem?
 John Kenyon, CNA - Fri Mar 20, 2009 10:34 pm

User avatar Hello --

There are a number of potential connections between chronic constipation and intolerance for alcohol. I guess the real challenge is finding the underlying cause of the constipation, which is chronic, although much improved.

The connection between this and the intolerance for alcohol could be either secondary (constipation alters the metabolism of ingested substances and could cause your live to be forced to accept more alcohol per serving than normal) or it could be a shared connection with the underlying cause. Then again it may be coincidental. I doubt this, however, even though most causes of chronic constipation are fairly benign (changes in diet, exercise routine, too-low fiber diet, dehydration, taking certain supplements -- iron and magnesium come to mind -- and especially taking narcotic painkillers). Others are more troublesome (nerve problems in the GI tract causing gastroparesis, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes or hypothyroidism, either of which should have been ruled out by now). Diabetes, in particular, can cause both gastric paralysis and intolerance for alcohol.

While it's impossible to determine the relationship -- and causes -- from here, the combination of factors do warrant further study, perhaps by a GI specialist.

I hope this is helpful. Good luck to you and please follow up with us here as needed.

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