• Welcome to Crohn's Forum, a support group for people with all forms of IBD. While this community is not a substitute for doctor's advice and we cannot treat or diagnose, we find being able to communicate with others who have IBD is invaluable as we navigate our struggles and celebrate our successes. We invite you to join us.

Alcohol effects?

I wanna understand alcohol and crohn's. Can alcohol on a few occasions create a flare? For someone who drank a few times recently but is not a regular drinker. And if so, does stopping altogether stop the flare?
I would avoid alcohol like the plague. Alcohol is supposedly linked to irritation of the colon lining. All my doctors said to avoid Alcohol and smoking.

I just changed from alcohol to green tea and to soda, or sometimes water, but water gets boring.

(it's funny that a lot of beer companies actually support us btw, they have given a lot to crohn's research, even though we don't tend to buy their stuff, so much <3 for them)

As far as stopping a flare up, I personally don't think alcohol is the only cause, even though anecdotal evidence of some people says otherwise, it's hard to tell if the alcohol was really the cause, but why take the risk.
True true. But why the colon? Crohn's doesn't typically affect the colon nearly as much as it affects the small intestine. That's the area I would think would come under direct threat with alcohol. And isn't it only bad because it irritates the aggravated tissue it's passing through? As in non harmful to the healthy segments of bowel
When I was ill last year the only thing I craved was guinness which I drank (I wouldn't normally) it must've been the iron, now the only thing that can irritate me is white wine, apart from that I'm fine to drink occasionally (once a week) and have no problems. Everyones different though
I believe my cousin has Crohns- he was a bad alcoholic...which made his situation worse...now that he has stopped drinking- he feels tons better...
I think I'm similar to Archie. Like a beer on the odd occasion although guiness is easier on the system and I also find white wine way too upsetting. Cider I love but again can really upset me. Best solution is to avoid but if feeling well and drinking wisely and in moderation I see no harm. Everyone is different though and what meds your on will also need to be taken into consideration.
had a drink last night for the first time in months. I was pretty convinced that alcohol was upsetting my system, so gave it up at the start of the summer. I had a wee flare which I attributed to mainly alcohol.

Been ok today, no toilet problems etc. I had a glass of red wine and 7 or 8 small bottles of cider. So looks like the "should be ok in moderation" mantra works well.
Beer is on my no-no list as of Friday. I had a single beer late Thursday night and was ill by Friday afternoon. I finally felt pretty good by Sunday morning. This is the second time this has happened to me. I usually don't drink very often. It just upsets me to know the disease is progressing, I could drink beer with no problem last March!

I've done alot of research on this because I drink socially (maybe one outing a week). Are you drinking mixed drinks? The sugar content is known to be what really irritates your body/triggers flares. If you have been doing mixed drinks you may want to switch to just tonic or straight liquor (if you don't want to stop leisurely drinking). Tonic is better than seltzer because seltzer has more sugar if I'm not mistaken.

Since I've made the conscious effort to layoff mixed drinks (or just get alcohol and gingerale), I can't remember the last time I had a flare that sparked soon after a night on the town. Also try to drink from the cup and not out of a straw. You consume more air which can give you an extra bloated feeling. Be conscious to not gulp down your drink as well.
I've found that alcohol tends to irritate my GI tract. I'll drink a glass of wine from time to time, but if I have to much, can become somewhat ill.
I used to drink most weekends when i was 18-21 years of age, which caused me to have a major flare.

Nowadays i don't touch alcohol atall and it has done my bowels the world of good. I would highly recommend steering clear of alcohol unless you feel you are able to tolerate it.
I was so sick when I used to smoke and binge drink in college. An occasional drink or 2 is ok, but I would not binge drink. Like food, certain drinks bother crohnies more than others. I can not handle red wine, it feels like I drank battery acid.
Fortunately, alcohol has never bothered me yet. Emphasis on yet. I'm gonna enjoy it until I can't. I'm not a super heavy drinker TBH... but I do enjoy getting trashed on special occasions :)
The yeast used in fermenting alcoholic beverages has been implicated in Crohn's. I personally have found alcoholic beverages therapeutic because it slows the motility of my bowl but my case is very unusual and I wouldn't recommend anyone think we can drink ourselves to health.
One of my issues is I stress a fair bit, especially running my own business, so I enjoy a glass or 3 ;) of wine to keep my sanity. I have no idea whether alcohol affects my UC, it probably does. I wouldn't say it causes a flare but wouldn't make things better if i was flaring.
Stress can make me flare almost instantly. I try exercise, good eating, Stress Vitamins etc and i also have a wine to keep myself calm. Catch 22 really :(
Stress reduction is always a good thing for Crohn's but easier said than done. I thought with a name like jaggartini, you would drink some sort of jagermeister martini concoction but I now see the extra "g". Wine, I think because of the high sugar content, causes problems for me. Likewise for mixed drinks. I tend to stick with Scotch.
If you drink, stick to beer. even my Doctor told me beer is ok as long as its not every night. I was a pretty normal drinker when i was first diagnosed (college years). I have toned down but still have a couple beers once or twice a week. As long as i did not drink liquor i was usually fine, well the normal hangover would follow as always but most of the time, if i ate something the next day and was on my meds regularly, i would be fine. keep in mind everyone's crohns affects them different.
it's the oposite for me, certain lagers and beers disagree with me but i'm fine with spirits (which i know sounds odd) grolsch makes me vomit if i drink 1 bottle of the stuff yet i've drank my body weight in spirits before and been fine i guess it's trial and error
before my operation I was an absolute Idiot when it came to drinking. I eventually stopped drinking as much as i was but unfortunatley things happened which i didn't exactly plan on happening.

I wish I could say it didn't affect me at all. And at the time when i was going out every weekend binging and going on regular trips to europe doing nothing but drink for 3 days straight... whilst being on steroid treatments and god knows what else...i thought i was invincible and that it would never affect me...I'm beginning to realise that in the long term I probably acted like a fool and did do some damage. since having an ileostomy i havent even been able to stomach alcohol. tried half a pint of lager which didn't go down to well. but ill be honest, i don't really miss drinking it would be nice if i could manage the odd social drink but its not the end of the world. Im saving money and not ruining my body in the process.

When i did drink btw id find that if i stuck to mainly lager and then just vodka with a mixer things wouldn't be to bad. But if i started drinking alcopops like smirnoff ice and WKD's etc then things would get messy. Oh and on most weekends i'd drink about 6 treble Vodka's and red bulls on top of the lager and shots of sambuca id already had. That stuff is pure danger.

If you can enjoy alcohol responsibly then Id say theres no reason why you shouldnt continue doing so. But I certainly wouldnt recommend the silly binging like i used to do. I wish i could go back and not be such an idiot.
Hi robbo87,

Excess is never a good thing; even if you don't have Crohns.

I'm not surprised you can't drink the beverages you listed. I am surprised you could drink lager and vodka with a mixer (unless it was sugar-free). Carbonated beverages and beverages with sugar-mixers give me fits.
Alcohol is much worse. Chronic alcohol abuse will cause physically observable brain damage, right up to mental retardation. Chronic marijuana use might cause some short-term memory loss, but it's not nearly as bad.
Alos,Dehydration is most likely the prob. Take 2 advil and drink some water B4 going to bed. You are still new to Alcohol, you will pass out in some strange places in the next few years.
Advil, and other NSAIDs are very bad for people with IBD. They can cause GI bleeding.

Alcohol also thins the blood and can worsen GI bleeding if you have it. Just something to consider as well.
It's so strange reading the different replies by everyone. One thing is for sure, this condition certainly has no standards.

Me, I can have the occasional beer and on rare occasions when I know I won't be driving, more than just a few in a sitting. Next day, no problems at all. Though I do stick to what most would consider weak North American pale lagers.

The other oddity of drinking beer is that it's the only carbonated beverage I can tolerate. I had to give up drinking pop long ago.

Liquors and wine however.... Can't do it.
And I miss super-chilled straight vodka too. :mad2:
I stopped drinking socially in June (after being on an overseas holiday for 6 boozy weeks), this was back when I was told I has IBS - now that I've been diagnosed with Crohn's I'm taking good care of my diet, I have drunk on the odd occasion and find that I can tolerate a baileys on ice or two, but then I stop. I don't know what it is about baileys (maybe it's not as alcoholic as some drinks) but it seems to comfort my stomach and not cause too many problems. I had one night about 2 months ago where I let loose and drank quite a few vodka and oranges, the next day I only got out of bed to use the loo every hour so have not done that since. I'm still recovering from my first flare though so I don't know what I'll be able to tolerate when/if I get to remission - I was disappointed at first to be "missing out" but I really don't miss drinking, or hangovers!
I have a strange relationship with alcohol - I'm not sure if it's because I no longer have bits of my intestine or what, but what usually happens is this:

I can drink slowly, about one drink per hour, and be fine, and then all of the sudden it all hits me at once. I assume this has to do with abnormal absorbtion? I really don't know why it happens but it makes it difficult to gauge how much to drink.

If I have one or two drinks of hard liquor, I am always fine, no illness. Wine, though, if I have more than one glass, it gives me D. Beer makes me bloated and makes my nose itch!
Lizzy it may have been the OJs you had with your vodka. I used to drink all of my alcohol with cranberry...but now I just do straight or gingerale and I'm fine. Which is quite a consideration since I tend to drink dark liquor which, in itself, does have caramel color etc. The gingerale works for me though.
You know Pure_xl_ence I never thought that the oj might be the problem, I just thought I overdid the alcohol - but that makes sense the juice could be the culprit as I wasn't feeling hungover, just a lot of tummy trouble and D.. Still I will just stick to my occasional one or two for the time being! I also hear that guinness is a more tolerable beer for some because it's flat, the bubbles in beer and cider make me very bloated and gassy - not fun! Although I can drink lemonade without trouble for some reason, is there any consistency with crohns? Haha it doesn't seem like it some times.
If you drink, stick to beer. even my Doctor told me beer is ok as long as its not every night. I was a pretty normal drinker when i was first diagnosed (college years). I have toned down but still have a couple beers once or twice a week. As long as i did not drink liquor i was usually fine, well the normal hangover would follow as always but most of the time, if i ate something the next day and was on my meds regularly, i would be fine. keep in mind everyone's crohns affects them different.

This is interesting. As I was reading everyone's input, I was thinking to myself, isn't beer helpful? My step mom has colitis, and her doctor told her to drink beer (in moderation of course) but it can be helpful. She has never had any problems with it and drinks a beer or two every evening after work. I have Crohns, and do not like beer so much, i enjoy a glass of white wine now and then, never a problem in my system.
Anyways, thanks for bringing up the topic on beer being ok....
Depends on the beer as they are not all fermented the same. Also, some of us have only limited tolerance for carbonated beverages of any kind.

@ Pure_xl_ence Anything that is high in sugar (like OJ) is more likely to cause problems for most of us. As for the rest of you...lucky! Gingerale, the kind with real ginger, can be therapeutic. Many people take Ginger capsules. They saved me when I was on Flagyl.
@ lizzy16 honey there is nothing consistent about crohn's but the pain and suffering lol

@ slugger i'll have to look into the ginger capsules
Yes, the only constant factor is the inconsistency!!

Now that I've been keeping a food diary I think that I do react to excessive sugar, which would explain my trouble with the vodka with OJ. Disappointing as I have a real sweet tooth, and once I start I can't stop (such as my night time biscuit blowouts that I've had to curb). I've been checking out the safe dessert recipes on another thread and they sound delicious.

Well, I did have a night out on Sunday with the boyfriend and a mate and had 2 pints of john smith ale (similar to guinness). I didn't have any upsets that night or the next day, but again I only stuck to a couple - I just can't handle any more than that. Which is fine, I still stayed out til 3am (must be the pred keeping me awake!), and we even got a.. wait for it.. pizza on the way home which I was able to have a couple of slices of. I kept waiting for the inevitable pain but it seems I got away with it on this occasion. As long as it's in moderation and I'm not overdoing it. Gut health comes first right now.
oddly enough lizzy, i've read a lot of places that pizza is a good thing for us to eat because it is one of the better ways to get the nutrients we need (guessing due to vitamins in cheese?) Weird right?
I wonder if anyone else gets the same as me. I can drink red wine (one or two medium glasses) no problem, in fact I believe it is very good for digestion because the ph level is very similar to the natural ph level of the stomach acids etc. However, i have recently had two flare ups which were, i think, cause by drinking a few spirit based drinks. Has anyone else noticed this difference between types of alcohol?
No, but, again, you have to try not to mix it with too much sweet. No juices if able. Also, given the caramel color content in dark liquors like cognac etc, that is also something to consider.
So I hadnt had a beer for over two years and on I went to the Jass festival and didnt feel bad at all, actually i felt quite in control for a change. I had two beers, Coors light to be exact . Really nice for about a few hours until I got home. Went to sleep and got up feeling really good for a change.
Had breakfast and bang, real sharp stabbing pain in LRQ. Still have it , nearly takes my breath away and hurts when I walk. I love to think that the beer didnt play a part in it but cant be sure.
Alcohol doesn't react my Crohn's. But i can't say same things for artritis. i drunk strongly two times and it does made flare up my Arthritis. My knee was terrible that i can't walk. So i gave up to drink too much.
Last edited:
My body definitely doesn't react so well to alcohol! I remember back in college when I'd drink too much and get up the next morning and....well, you can imagine a morning spent plunked on the toilet. So, yes, short answer is that I avoid alcohol, especially hard alcohol in cocktails and unfortunately enough red wine.
Hi everyone, putting my 2 cents in here. I still enjoy booze now and then, but something to consider is that the alcohol is processed through the liver ...as is a lot of the medication that we are on ! There are some numbers out there that say those on azathioprene and humira ( as i am ) have a 1 in 100 chance of developing liver cancer, so i try to lower my booze intake. having said that, i refuse to let this horrible disease rule my life. cheers to all
Well I'm currently un-diagnosed however I haven't been able to drink alcohol for the past 8 months.
As I'm 20 and a student this is like putting candy in front of a child and telling them not to touch it. So what did I do? Touch it. Just a few glasses of still white wine with my flatmate while having a girly movie night. Never, never, never again. EVER! I was fine until the next day when it hit me! Ended up in hospital in extreme pain and probably helped to trigger an intense 2 month flare up.

Just to clarify I am from New Zealand the legal drinking age over here is 18!

But thats just me! Some people have no problems at all with alcohol:)
I've always drank (and smoked up until recently) as much as i've wanted, which has been regularly of the last five years and have never noticed a difference. Trying to cut back now i'm actually acknowledging the disease but i'm very interested to find out what the GI has to say about this.
The truth is that excessive alcoholism will make you sick. Crohn's or not. It doesn't matter what disease. It's not going to make you stronger or healthier.

There is no literature that I am aware of that evidences Crohn's is caused by alcohol or exacerbated by moderate use.

That said, I think moderate drinking is not going to cause problems unless there are other factors. In fact, in many cases, moderate drinking may actually help with your Crohn's.

Use your head. You know what your body is doing. Listen to it. If you drink and feel like crapl, don't drink; but, do you really need me to tell you that?
In fact, in many cases, moderate drinking may actually help with your Crohn's.
Not disputing your information at all, as i've said i've drunk as much as i've wanted to for years without any problems. But what are your reasons for saying this, literature, personal?
When I was first diagnosed I was a bit in denial, carried on drinking socially every weekend and not taking my medication consistently. Got VERY ill, gave me the kick up the bum I needed. I now only drink on special occasions maybe once every 4-6 months. I always used to drink Vodka with Coke but even in remission it would give me a dodgy tum. I now drink vodka with a splash of orange cordial and top up with water which doesn't give me any problems. Cannot touch any alcopops, they kill me the next day.


Beer bothers me, clear alcohol doesn't.

I would love to completely avoid alcohol, but unfortunately that doesn't work out being a college student and all.

I never do drink more than once a week though and typically I only drink every other weekend:) Lots of DD duties for me :D
I was diagnosed in 1993 and suffered until 2002. I inadvertantly stopped drinking for other reasons and what do you know, I've been in remission without any symptoms for 12 years!