Although it is often confused with ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the GIT, while ulcerative colitis only affects the large intestine (colon). Crohn’s typically affects the ileum (the end of the small intestine) and the beginning of the colon.
Crohn’s can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea and malnutrition. Certain drinks and food have been found to worsen — or trigger — the symptoms of Crohn’s. The severity of the symptoms and the triggers may vary from person to person.
The short — and probably annoying — answer to this question is: “Maybe.” Some people with Crohn’s can enjoy moderate amounts of liquor in without experiencing adverse side effects.
Not all foods and drinks affect people with Crohn’s the same way. For many with Crohn’s, foods and drinks that make signs and symptoms worse include:
- alcoholic beverages (wine, beer, cocktails)
- caffeinated beverages
- carbonated beverages
- dairy products
- fatty foods
- fried or greasy foods
- high fiber foods
- nuts and seeds
- spicy foods
If you have Crohn’s, take the time to identify the foods and drinks that trigger flare-ups or make the symptoms during a flare up worse. Either cocktails, wine or beer might be a problem for you. Or one or all of them might not be.
Before testing your reaction to wine, beer, or cocktails, talk to your doctor about the potential effects liquor could have on your Crohn’s disease. It makes sense that you understand the risks, just as you should do for the medications you are taking to treat your Crohn’s.
Your doctor will probably mention that alcohol can irritate your GI lining and might cause malabsorption and bleeding in people with Crohn’s. Also, your doctor should advise you on any potential interaction between alcohol and your IBD medications.
Although the effects of drinking alcoholic beverages differ among people with Crohn’s, there has been research on the subject.
- According to a 2018 review of studies, alcohol consumption may be associated with worsening of symptoms for people with IBD, but more studies are needed to determine alcohol’s role in IBD or to potentially determine whether there is a specific quantity that can be safely consumed by people with IBD.
- A small 2010 study found that alcohol consumption worsened symptoms in the majority of people with IBD and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- A 2018 article in the Journal of Gastroenterology indicated that although there are not many studies on the impact of alcohol consumption by people with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, people with IBD are more likely to complain about drinking alcohol worsening symptoms as compared to people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
If you have Crohn’s disease and want to drink a beer, a glass of wine, or a cocktail, that is certainly up to you.
It’s important, however, to consider and understand the effect of alcohol on your gastrointestinal tract, your liver, and your overall health. You also need to know if alcohol will negatively interact with any medications you are taking.
Under your doctor’s supervision, if appropriate, you can test to see if alcohol is a trigger for Crohn’s flare-ups. You may be able to drink moderate amounts of liquor without irritating your Crohn’s symptoms.