Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT). It’s categorized as an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Certain drinks and food have been found to trigger or worsen the symptoms of Crohn’s — including alcohol.

If you live with Crohn’s disease, you might be wondering is you’re able to drink alcohol without experiencing symptoms. The short — and probably annoying — answer to this question is: Maybe.

The severity of Crohn’s symptoms and the triggers that bring them on can vary from person to person. In this article, we’ll cover what’s known about drinking alcohol while living with Crohn’s disease.

Not all foods and drinks affect people who live with Crohn’s the same way. In fact, some can enjoy moderate amounts of alcohol without experiencing adverse side effects.

If you have Crohn’s, it’s important to figure out which foods and drinks trigger flare-ups or make them worse. It’s possible that cocktails, wine, or beer might be causing your symptoms. It could even be all three — or something else completely.

Other foods and drinks that make the signs and symptoms of Crohn’s worse include:

  • caffeinated beverages
  • carbonated beverages
  • dairy products
  • fatty foods
  • fried or greasy foods
  • high fiber foods
  • nuts and seeds
  • spicy foods

Before testing your reaction to wine, beer, or other alcohol, talk with your doctor about the potential effects alcohol could have on your Crohn’s disease symptoms.

Your doctor will probably mention that alcohol may irritate your GI lining and might cause malabsorption and bleeding. Also, your doctor should advise you on any potential interaction between alcohol and your IBD medications.

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Although the effects of drinking alcoholic beverages differ among people living 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’s a specific quantity that can be safely consumed by people with IBD.
  • A smaller, older 2010 study found that alcohol consumption worsened symptoms in the majority of people with IBD and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • One 2018 article said that there aren’t many studies on the impact of alcohol consumption by people with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. But it did find that people with IBD are more likely to find that drinking alcohol worsens symptoms as compared to people with IBS.
  • One older 2011 study found that one to three glasses of red wine per day for 1 week seemed to decrease markers of stool inflammation. But it also found that other markers suggested increased intestinal permeability, which is thought to possibly add to disease symptoms.

It’s possible for some people living with Crohn’s to still enjoy a beer or a glass of wine once in a while if it doesn’t affect their symptoms too much.

But alcohol has been known to trigger Crohn’s disease symptoms, and some people may want to avoid it altogether. You also need to know if alcohol will negatively interact with any IBD medications you’re 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 alcohol without irritating your Crohn’s symptoms.

Read this article in Spanish.