Do Alcoholics Get Crohn's Disease?

Medically Reviewed on 3/10/2022
Do alcoholics get Crohn's disease
Alcohol is one of the common causes of Crohn’s disease flare-ups.

Alcohol is one of the common causes of Crohn’s disease flare-ups. It can aggravate the condition to a certain level where hospital admission may be required.

Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). One mechanism that may play a role in its causation is an abnormal immune response, where healthy cells in the digestive tract are attacked. This results in various symptoms, such as abdominal cramps and diarrhea.

However, it is considered safe to drink alcohol in moderation if a person has Crohn’s disease. Drinking alcohol or alcoholic beverages in moderation calms the immune system, which may help patients with Crohn’s disease.

In excess, however, alcohol can further irritate the gut and cause Crohn’s disease flare-ups. The response to alcohol varies with people. Thus, one must avoid alcohol if it worsens symptoms and even if it does not, one must not have alcohol in excess.

What is the impact of alcohol on Crohn’s disease?

Various environmental factors have been linked to the pathophysiology of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). However, evidence regarding alcohol's role in disease activity and overall therapy is limited.

Several pathways have been shown to mediate alcohol’s effects in the gastrointestinal system. Alcohol has been proven to change the gut microbiome, disrupt the intestinal barrier, and increase intestinal permeability, which promotes immunological activation both directly and indirectly. Specific alcoholic beverages, particularly red wine, may provide anti-inflammatory characteristics that can help control the illness and influence disease monitoring.

Nonetheless, most alcohol-mediated effects appear to promote intestinal inflammation, which influences illness development, recurrence, and symptom control. Furthermore, alcohol use disrupts the metabolism of numerous drugs, resulting in elevated side effect profiles or even loss of effect.

How to treat Crohn’s disease flare-ups

Anyone suffering from Crohn's disease should consult a doctor to manage flare-ups. If a trigger is discovered, it should be eliminated from the diet immediately. So, if Crohn’s disease flare-up is due to alcohol consumption, immediately cease intake of alcohol.

Even if the symptoms are in remission, make sure to take all medications exactly as prescribed. Never skip a dose because doing so increases the likelihood of a flare-up.

Keep the following handy because these could help in the event of a flare-up:

  • Pain relievers
  • Antidiarrheal medication
  • Hygienic wipes
  • A heating pad
  • Mild soap to clean irritated or sensitive anal tissue
  • Nutritional supplements as prescribed
  • Other prescribed medications for inflammatory bowel disease


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What are the effects of alcohol on the gastrointestinal system?

Effects on the gastrointestinal (GI) lining

Alcohol consumption can cause inflammation of the gut lining, which can result in:

These are symptoms that patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) already struggle to regulate. Studies suggest that alcohol consumption, particularly in excess, can trigger IBD.

Effects on the liver

The liver's role is to break down harmful chemicals (such as drugs and alcohol) and remove them from the body. Besides, the liver synthesizes several chemicals required by the body and stores vitamins, carbohydrates, fats, and other nutrients. The liver participates in the digestion of food. Excessive alcohol consumption can hamper the functioning of the liver, leading to various problems, such as fatty liver or cirrhosis.

Alcohol can harm the liver by damaging or changing its cells, and it can even aggravate an underlying liver problem. Chronic liver disease is a significant consequence of IBD that affects 5 to 15 percent of the population with the condition.

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Medically Reviewed on 3/10/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

Watson S. How Alcohol Affects Crohn's and Meds That Treat It. WebMD.

Mayo Clinic. Crohn's disease.