What’s Up With Explosive Hangover Poops?
Hangovers manifest themselves in dozens of horrendous ways: headaches, dehydration, fatigue, the list goes on. But there’s one hangover symptom that often seems to be left out of the discussion: explosive and excessive poop (or diarrhea).
If you thought you were the only hangover victim who spent his morning chained to the toilet, think again. Hangover poops are 100% legit. You might be familiar with the slang terms for them: Beer Shits, Rum Bum, Day-After-Drinking Shits (DADS), and many more.
Post-drinking diarrhea is a science-backed phenomenon (more on that later). Luckily, there are a few ways to tame it. But before we dive into the particulars, you have to understand how the human body processes alcohol.
Your Body On Booze
When alcohol enters your body it affects every organ, from your brain to your bowels. If you’re drinking on a full stomach, those beers and cocktails can be easily absorbed. But if you haven’t eaten, alcohol travels faster into your small intestine and bloodstream, resulting in a quicker buzz.
Normally, your colon muscles work in a synchronized fashion to transport last night’s dinner out of your butt and into the toilet. But as you’re about to find out, binge drinking throws a wrench into this otherwise stable system.
What Causes Hangover Poops and Diarrhea?
There are three main factors at play when excessive drinking turns into excessive pooping.
- Alcohol irritates the lining of your intestines, which can disrupt the muscle contractions that tell you when it’s time to drop a deuce. Specifically, the contractions get stronger and more frequent.
- When your colon goes into overdrive, it pushes out your poop before it has a chance to soak up excess liquid. Instead of dropping a well-formed fecal masterpiece, you churn out loose, watery poop. (If you’re wondering what your poop should look like, head over here).
- Alcohol depresses a hormone called vasopressin, an anti-diuretic in the posterior pituitary gland that helps your kidneys balance the amount of water your body retains. When this hormone is thrown out of whack, your body struggles to hold on to water and releases what it can’t absorb. Hello, diarrhea.
“There is a triple whammy,” says gastroenterologist Andrew Black, M.D. “Too much fluid exiting, too little being absorbed, and the gut working overtime to push things out the door.”
Aside from the alcohol itself, there are two more culprits that have the potential to wreak havoc on your digestive system—and your toilet.
Swapping sugary soda for diet soda in your mixed drinks might cut calories, but you should be prepared to pay the price on the toilet.
Artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose have been known to disrupt digestive patterns and cause diarrhea (even Dr. Oz says so). Artificial sweeteners are found in diet sodas and sparkling water, two of the most common mixers. Guzzling these two liquids together is basically a poop potion.
Late Night Munchies
Remember those drive-thru tacos you crushed at 3 a.m.? Or that XL pizza that you finished alone because you’re not a quitter? Yeah, that late night greasy grub isn’t exactly optimal for your digestive system (shocker).
Fried, greasy, and fatty foods are notorious for causing indigestion. Couple that with a night full of heavy drinking and you’ve created the perfect storm for a mostrous morning poop.
Is There Any Way to Tame Hangover Poops?
Pooping daily is obviously necessary for a healthy life (you can read about how often you should be pooping here). But hangover poops are a whole different animal. If you want the best of both worlds (a night full of drinking and stable bowel movements), we have three tips:
- Alternate each drink with a cup of water. This will dilute your boozy bloodstream and ultimately aid your digestive system.
- When choosing your drinks, aim for as little sugar as possible (without relying on artificial sweeteners). Club soda is your friend.
- Binging on greasy drunk food only adds fuel to the fire. If you’re dying for something to eat, grab some foods that are high in fiber: whole grain bread, rice, or crackers. These will help soak up the alcohol and stabilize your poop.