The simple answer is yes, alcohol can make inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) worse. The development of IBD has even been linked to increased alcohol use.

The Effects of Alcohol:
  • Irritates the stomach and intestinal lining and cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Taking metronidazole (Flagyl) with alcohol makes it worse.
  • Can cause or worsen liver disease—and IBD already affects the liver
  • Dulls the senses and is dangerous when combined with painkillers and antidepressants
  • Increases stomach and intestinal bleeding when used with NSAIDS like ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) and naproxen (Naprosyn)

Additionally, a study looked at the risk of developing IBD in over 57,000 Taiwanese who were in the hospital intoxicated with alcohol compared to 240,000 others of the same age. The researchers found that those who had mild alcohol problems were nearly twice as likely to develop IBD over the next 10 years. That likelihood was 7 times higher in those with moderate problems. Those who were in the hospital the longest with their alcohol problems were 20 times more likely to develop IBD. (TY Hsu and others, PLOS one, 2016)

The study concluded that the current and past use of alcohol can increase the risk of IBD. If alcohol is not a trigger, it is ok to have an occasional serving of alcohol. However, it is best to avoid heavy or consistent use while you have IBD.

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