Anyone who’s gone from drink to drank to full-out drunk knows hangovers are sh*tty — like, actually sh*tty. But no one ever really talks about the morning-after runs, do they? Bathroom talk has gotten a bad rap for being “impolite,” so instead of outwardly complaining about our toilet troubles post-boozing, we play up the splitting headache and cravings for greasy bagel sandwiches and fountain soda. If we never talk about our run-in with the runs, though, or at least do some sort of research, how are you supposed to know why you poop more when you’re hungover? If you’re not part of the solution, your part of the problem.
Mind you, it really doesn’t matter what you’re drinking on your Friday night out with the girls. Alcohol is alcohol, and for some reason, beer and liquor both ignite the fire in our bellies signaling it’s time to go, go, go the second you wake up in the morning. Talk about a buzzkill, amirite? And this isn’t your stereotypical numero dos, either; it’s messy, painful, and just a cruel, unusual punishment, if you ask me. I mean, everyone always says to drink a lot of liquids, right? I’m kidding (mostly), but hangover poop isn’t your body’s way of punishing you for drinking too much. This is its natural way of detoxing.
This shouldn’t come as too much of a shock, but alcohol isn’t exactly great for your gut health.
Of course, every body — and in turn, every gut — is different, so different people will have different reactions to alcohol boiling in their systems. For example, beer is less concentrated than whiskey, so if you're sipping on Blue Moons all night, there’s a solid chance you won’t have too much of a problem the next morning. Hard liquor, on the other hand, can, for lack of a better term, do you dirty. It all depends on your body’s tolerance.
According to gastroenterologist Dr. Kathlynn Caguiat, there’s bound to be some sort of issue once alcohol hits the colon. She told Thrillist that alcohol “increases gut motility and it doesn't get broken down before it reaches the colon,” where bacteria enjoy the leftovers of your drink, “resulting in bloating and diarrhea." Yikes.
What’s also worth noting is that when your gut motility kicks into high gear, everything in the colon is on the outs. Think of the waste in your colon as tenants in an apartment whose landlord is kicking them out with no time to pack a bag. Everything’s moving at high speed, with no time to absorb any water, resulting in wet stools. Delicious graphics, I know, but you get the gist.
On the other hand, drinking too much can also make you constipated.
If we’re learning anything right now, it’s that even though alcohol can taste delicious, and make you feel good in the moment, it’s not always a good time once it hits your system. The thing is, at least when you get hangover poops, waste that probably needed to get out anyway is passing through all the right channels. Indulge a little too much, however, and those tasty umbrella drinks could lead to a serious case of constipation.
Alcohol, like caffeine, is a diuretic, meaning a substance that increases urination, and causes the body to become dehydrated. So while “breaking the seal” can feel so, so good, there’s a high probability that the next morning you’re going to feel super lousy.
According to WebMD, when you don’t have enough water in your system, your large intestine makes up for it by drinking up all the moisture from food waste during digestion. This results in a buildup of “hard stools” that are difficult to pass. In other words, a few hours of partying could lead to a few days of pain until you’re able to successfully go to the bathroom. I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t sound worth it to me.
Sh*t happens, though, so how do you stop the hangover poops?
Well, first, let’s tackle how to prevent alcohol-induced dehydration, because this problem is much easier to solve: For every drink you finish, down a glass of water. This way, you’ll replace any water you may have lost, and you can also prevent alcohol from hitting your system too quickly. Pacing yourself has more benefits than you think.
Circling back to a nasty case of the runs, you’ll want to follow a similar protocol. Drink a lot of water in between alcoholic bevs, and eat a well-balanced meal for the booze to fall back on. It’s generally a good idea to cut back on the number of shots and bottles you’re buying, but if you want to party it up, do so knowing there’s a chance you’ll be spending some quality time with your toilet tomorrow. Have over-the-counter meds like Imodium and Pepto-Bismol at the ready, and stick to the BRAT diet: bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, as the Cleveland Clinic says these foods will ease your symptoms.