Why are we sick when we drink too much?
Nearly all of us at some point have spent the evening dialling the porcelain telephone, more often than not – a result of (sigh) another alcohol–fuelled evening.
We may have even lauded throwing up as a 'tactical', a go-to last move to try to feel better and carry on while the night is 'still young'. Or even worse, the involuntary morning throw up, a haunting semi-sober experience.
So why do our bodies make us projectile vomit like that scene from The Exorcist when we drink too much booze?
Our bodies can't deal with the toxin overload and need to expel it to keep us functioning (and alive)
As we drink, our body processes alcohol breaking it down into acetaldehyde (toxic). The body and liver neutralise toxic acetaldehyde with glutathione – when we drink slowly and don't overdo it, this process works in breaking the alcohol down. When we drink too fast however the liver can't produce glutathione fast enough to keep up with the amount of acetaldehyde (alcohol) and realises it has to get rid of it another way, by vomiting.
Alcohol irritates and is also toxic to the gut
Binge and excess alcohol intake irritate the stomach lining, leading to too much acid which gives us the nauseated feeling – which is why many people get a feeling earlier on in the night that they may be sick.
Does that mean it's natural and safe to throw up from drinking?
- NO! There's nothing natural or safe about projectile vomiting like a small child in a film who's been possessed by the devil (rotating head optional)...
- There is a real risk of becoming unconscious and choking to death on vomit which is a reality which happens far too regularly.
- The body is stripped of electrolytes and extremely dehydrated after being sick which can lead to permanent kidney damage.
- In addition to this, damage can also be caused to the stomach and esophageal lining.
- Vomit can even be breathed into our airways and into our lungs by a process called aspiration, which can also lead to pneumonia.
Thankfully as we grow up and understand our limits a bit more (or not) – throwing up can become far less frequent. If a night on the porcelain telephone has been enough to make you consider mindful drinking, then our range of alcohol-free options could be just what the doctor ordered.
⚠️ A word of caution⚠️: Vomiting after drinking should be taken seriously as it can indicate you have alcohol poisoning. If you suspect you or someone you know has alcohol poisoning, seek urgent medical assistance.