beer belly

Alcohol Bloating

Legacy Healing Center Blog

When you go out for a few drinks with friends, you may notice that you feel bloated afterward. Alcohol bloating can be unpleasant, but it usually goes away quickly. If you suffer from substance use disorder and consume alcohol regularly, you may find bloating becomes a more serious issue.

What is Alcohol Bloating?

Alcohol bloating is a feeling of tightness or excess pressure on your stomach. It may appear distended or swollen, but this isn’t always the case. You may feel slightly uncomfortable or experience intense pain. There are several causes of bloating, which can include gas, digestive contents, and hormones. However, alcohol bloating is caused by drinking too much alcohol².

Bloating from alcohol or other factors can lead to various symptoms, including heartburn, nausea, vomiting, changes in appetite, abdominal pain, and a distended stomach. If left untreated, bloating can damage the lining of the stomach and cause ulcers to develop¹.

Your face may also look swollen and red from drinking too much alcohol. The alcohol dehydrates you, which triggers your body to try to hang onto as much water as possible, storing it in areas such as your face. 

Why Does Alcohol Make You Bloated?

Alcohol can lead to bloating because it causes inflammation of the stomach, also known as gastritis or in the intestines, where it is referred to as enteritis². It can last for a few days if it is acute. Chronic gastritis can last for months. It may take longer for the symptoms to appear with the chronic condition than with acute gastritis.

Weight Gain from Alcohol

While bloating can come and go when you drink, another issue that can make you appear bloated is weight gain. Alcohol drinks are often high in calories, which can lead to gaining weight over time. A regular beer has 153 calories for 12 ounces. Even a light beer comes in at 103 calories. If you prefer craft beers, you could consume as much as 350 calories per drink.

Wine can range from around 120 calories per five ounces to over 150 calories with a dry dessert wine. Other alcohol, such as rum or vodka, can provide over 100 calories per 1.5 ounces. And if you like mixed drinks, expect to add over 500 calories. If you have multiple drinks, you could quickly add an extra 1000 calories to your daily total. If you follow this regimen regularly, you can see how easy it is to gain weight in a short amount of time, which can create that “beer belly” that makes you look bloated⁴. 

How Can You Avoid Alcohol Bloating?

If you’re planning to consume more than one alcoholic beverage, you may want to consider some ways to help avoid bloat. The first step is to ensure you’re hydrated and drink plenty of water before drinking alcohol. You will need to drink more than average since alcohol dehydrates you.

Carbonated drinks, such as soda, also dehydrate you. If you plan to drink later, avoid sodas earlier in the day. Beer is also carbonated, so limit it in favor of other alcohol choices. You’ll also want to avoid mixing alcohol with soda, such as rum and coke, to help reduce bloating.

Avoiding smoking while you’re drinking can also help with bloating. When you smoke, you breathe more air, which can lead to bloat. The toxins in your cigarettes can also irritate the stomach.

While you’re at the party or hanging out with friends, pay attention to how you drink alcohol. Drinking slowly helps prevent you from swallowing extra air, which can cause bloat. Once you finish drinking for the evening, you may crave salty or fatty foods. Don’t give into those cravings because the salt will cause you to retain excess water and suffer from bloating³. 

How to Get Rid of Alcohol Bloating

If you’re already feeling uncomfortable from drinking and need relief from bloating, start by drinking a lot of water. Water will help flush the system, which will reduce that heavy feeling. You’ll get even more benefits if you add in some lemon and cayenne pepper to detoxify your system.

Probiotics can improve gut health, which can lower the likelihood of bloating. You can take probiotic supplements or eat foods like yogurt, which contribute to a healthy system.

You may feel rough if you have a hangover and bloating, but exercise will help you start to feel better. It can help your system eliminate bloating faster than any other treatment. You don’t need to go out and do an intense workout at the gym. Even walking around the neighborhood or on a treadmill will do some good. Exercise helps to get rid of those toxins and releases endorphins that make you feel better. 

The best way to get rid of alcohol bloating long-term is to stop drinking. If alcohol is an irritant, it’s best to stop consuming it to prevent a reoccurrence. As long as you continue to drink, it will irritate your stomach.

If you have an alcohol addiction, you may struggle with abstaining to prevent bloating. You may find it difficult to stop drinking on your own, being willing to suffer the discomfort of bloating to avoid the symptoms of withdrawal.

Alcohol Bloating Treatment

You can see a doctor for treatment of alcohol bloating if the discomfort becomes severe. They may prescribe an antibiotic to treat gastritis and reduce bloating. They may also recommend antacids, H2 blockers, or proton pump inhibitors to reduce the production of stomach acid and the harm it can do to the stomach and intestines¹.

If you have chronic issues with bloating when you drink, you may want to cut back on the amount. The recommended guideline is two drinks per day for men and one drink for women. Examples of this amount includes 12 ounces of beer and five ounces of wine. The amount of alcohol your body can metabolize depends on your age, gender, weight, and other factors³. 

Other Side Effects of Consuming Alcohol

Drinking alcohol is best done in moderation. If you drink too much, you can cause other damage to your body decides bloating. Over time, you can damage your liver and cause issues with memory and other brain functions. Excessive amounts of alcohol can increase the risk of cancer as well as causing injury to you or others through impaired driving or other behaviors. It can also harm your baby if you drink while pregnant. 

How to Find Help

If you suffer from alcohol bloating and have a substance use disorder, you can get help. Legacy Healing Centers provides alcohol detox to help you be able to stop drinking without the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Our treatment specialists can monitor your progress and prescribe medication tor reduce the severity of the symptoms. When you first arrive, they will perform an assessment to determine the best treatment plan. You will need to cleanse the system of the alcohol and treat any conditions, such as alcohol bloating.

It is dangerous to stop drinking on your own. Many people suffer severe withdrawal symptoms, which can be dangerous and life-threatening if not handled properly. Supervised detox can prevent these issues, giving you a safe place to begin healing.

You can receive inpatient treatment for addiction at Legacy Healing Centers with group and individual therapy and continuing care with 12-step meetings to help prevent relapse. Legacy Healing Centers also provides outpatient addiction treatment once you have gone through the inpatient program or in place of it if you have a strong support system.

Therapists use a variety of treatment options to help you overcome your addiction. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you learn how to identify and respond to triggers that lead you to drinking. The therapist may recommend hypnotherapy treatment, psychodynamic therapy, or other treatments to address the underlying causes of addiction.

Get Help Now

Today can be the day you start your journey to recovery. Contact us today at Legacy Healing Centers to find out how you can get the help you need. Contact us at 888-534-2295 to speak with a treatment specialist about alcohol addiction. Reclaim your life with people who respect and care for you. Ladies and Gentlemen helping Ladies and Gentlemen. 


  1. Medical News Today. (July 17, 2019). What to Know About Alcohol Bloating
  2. Cleveland Clinic. (September, 2021) Bloated Stomach
  3. Healthline. (March 2019). Why Does Alcohol Make Me Bloated?
  4. MedLine Plus (May 2020) Calorie Count – Alcoholic Beverages.