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What is the Connection Between Alcohol and Nausea?

Dan Cavallari
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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After a night of drinking, it is not uncommon to experience a hangover, which can draw a distinct relationship between alcohol and nausea. While the feeling of nausea after drinking alcohol can be caused by a few different conditions or combination of conditions, the most common connection between alcohol and a feeling of nausea occurs in the stomach: as alcohol enters the stomach and affects the stomach's lining, the person will experience nausea.

Another connection between alcohol and nausea is dehydration. As alcohol circulates through the body, ethanol promotes dehydration by increasing urine production. This process can cause headaches and dry mouth, which can, in turn, cause nausea in some people. Those conditions can combine to make a person lethargic, achy, and nauseated.

Of course, alcohol and nausea can also go hand in hand before the hangover begins. While consuming alcohol, it is important to remember that large quantities of liquid or food — not just alcohol — can cause illness, nausea, and other severe discomfort. If the body recognizes that it is receiving too much liquid all at once, the stomach may reject more fluid, thereby causing nausea and vomiting. This same rejection can occur when too much of any substance is ingested in a short period of time.

Other variables that may cause a connection between alcohol and nausea might be found in the ingredients of certain alcohols. Many types of alcohols are made with different ingredients to give a certain flavor or potency, and these ingredients may cause an allergic reaction or other irritation in some users. For example, many beers contain gluten, which is a common food allergy for many people. If a person with a gluten allergy ingests certain beers, that person may become ill with nausea or other severe or minor conditions.

Since alcohol can cause a loss of equilibrium in the human brain, causing a sensation of dizziness or extreme motion — sometimes called the spins — nausea may result from the perceived spinning motion after too much alcohol is consumed. Nausea is common in people who experience vertigo or motion sickness; when large amounts of alcohol are consumed, the brain can experience perceived motion, and the person may experience nausea as a result.

In many of the cases mentioned above, nausea can lead to vomiting. Vomiting can be potentially dangerous, as it is possible to choke on the vomit expelled through the mouth, causing severe discomfort or even death.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Dan Cavallari
By Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari, a talented writer, editor, and project manager, crafts high-quality, engaging, and informative content for various outlets and brands. With a degree in English and certifications in project management, he brings his passion for storytelling and project management expertise to his work, launching and growing successful media projects. His ability to understand and communicate complex topics effectively makes him a valuable asset to any content creation team.
Discussion Comments
By gravois — On Jun 11, 2011

@Ivan83 - I think a lot of the solutions for nausea apply to hangovers in general. In my experience, the only way to cure a hangover is with three simple things

Drink as much water as you can and try to work in some Gatorade. This might make your nausea worse, but try to keep it down, your body needs it.

Get something to eat, preferably a carbohydrate that will fill up your stomach. This will give you energy and will put something in your stomach to soak up the booze.

Go out an get moving. The longer you lie around in bed the longer your hangover will last. I have learned from experience that if you get out and go for a walk your hangover will disappear much faster. This applies to nausea as well.

By Ivan83 — On Jun 10, 2011

I get bad nausea when I drink. Has anyone found a way to cure this? I like to have a good time with my friends, but sometimes the consequences are just not worth it. If someone has a solution I would love to hear it.

By whiteplane — On Jun 09, 2011

I take some pride in being able to say that I have never gotten nauseous from drinking. This is not to say that I have not had other negative side effects, serious side effects sometimes, but luckily nausea has never been one of them. I can remember going into the bathroom in my college dorm on a Sunday morning and seeing someone in every stall down on their knees trying to get the fun from the night before out of their belly. Luckily I never had to get down there myself.

By tigers88 — On Jun 06, 2011

@nextcorrea - I have the same problem but in reverse. Vodka is my drink of choice, but most other things seem to tie my stomach in knots. I guess this speaks to the great variety of human biology. For some mysterious reason whiskey treats the two of us differently. Who knows why, I'm just glad to have the heads up so I can avoid it.

By nextcorrea — On Jun 03, 2011

Some drinks make me nauseous and other seem to have no effect on my stomach at all. I can drink beer and whiskey all night without any effect, but If I touch a drop of vodka, gin or white rum my stomach immediately gets thrown out of sorts. It must be something in the ingredients. I had to learn this lesson the hard way, but now I stay away from anything that mixes up my stomach. It's just not worth it.

By jonrss — On Jun 02, 2011

This is a relationship that I know all too well. Some people seem to be able to drink endlessly without any negative effects to their stomach, but I am not one of these people. In fact, I usually know I have been drinking too much when I begin to feel nauseous. My speech does not begin to slur or my motor skills decline, but my stomach definitely registers the effect.

Unfortunately this is a problem for me both the night of and the morning after. I have spent too many hungover moments with my head perched over a toilet seat for what seems like hours. It makes me wish I could just turn my stomach inside out and wash all the mistakes from the night before out.

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari, a talented writer, editor, and project manager, crafts high-quality, engaging, and informative content for various outlets and brands. With a degree in English and certifications in project management, he brings his passion for storytelling and project management expertise to his work, launching and growing successful media projects. His ability to understand and communicate complex topics effectively makes him a valuable asset to any content creation team.
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