four hands holding different alcoholic beverages

Can You Drink Alcohol with IBD?

Since inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is often diagnosed during the teenage years or young adulthood, the topic of alcohol consumption does come up a lot.

Can you drink alcohol when you have Crohn's or colitis?

The question is something that doesn’t just come up in patient's minds, but caregivers as well.

Let’s talk about it!

First, I want to state again that I am not a medical professional. I feel like I could be one, but...I am not :) So, please take everything you read in this article, but also other articles on social media, with the understanding that not everyone with this disease reacts the same.

The things I am sharing may have absolutely nothing to do with you. Please do your own homework/research, ask your doctor, and take the time to get to know your own body and disease. Please.

The short answer to this question is that it depends on so many things, but I wouldn’t rule it out if you enjoy alcoholic beverages and you have just been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Plus, even if you aren’t able to at the moment, so many things change with this disease over the years that you just never know!

There are medications that many inflammatory bowel disease patients are on that may interfere with alcohol which, of course, should be taken very seriously. For example, many people with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis are on antibiotics which is a definite “no-no” to combine with alcohol.

My experience of drinking alcohol with ulcerative colitis

Given that I suffer from migraines as well as IBD, alcohol always makes things worse for me. I stopped drinking any kind of alcohol when I was about 24. When I was younger, on the nights I would drink with my friends, I stuck to clear liquids (like vodka). I found them to affect my ostomy and intestines the least.

The heavy, regular beer never sat well with me. Basically, I kind of went by the rule “the less alcohol in my system that will get me where I want to be, the better” which is why I was never someone who sipped on cocktails and really enjoyed the flavor. Thinking back, I probably would have had better luck if I did the latter but, we all live and learn.

Pay attention to how alcohol affects you

I can’t sit here and tell you that you or your loved one should or should not have alcohol. What I can and will say is to pay very close attention to how it affects you. Drink plenty of water before you drink - during, and the next day.

Check with your doctor about all of your medications, and especially be mindful of any sedating medications you take to help you sleep as you might need to skip it that night.

Make sure you are with someone who knows a little bit about your situation or who can at the very least, get you home or to a safe place should you not feel well.

What's your experience of drinking with IBD?

I would love to hear other people’s experiences with alcohol as an inflammatory bowel disease patient. Please keep in mind that not only is our disease progression different, but we are all in different states.

Some of us have had surgery. Some of us do not have large intestines. Some of us have had small bowel resections. Some of us live with a colostomy, while other IBDers live with an ileostomy, which is different. Some of us are on heavy-duty medications.

Basically, just remember what works for another person with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis may not be the case for you.

Take into consideration all of the above things mentioned, plus anything else you may think of that I didn’t get into. Be safe and smart. And if you are able to, enjoy and have fun!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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