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Why We Get the Shits After Going on a Bender

The good, the bad and the ugly things we learned about our bodies today

The pounding headache; the sensitivity to light; the gurgling tummy; the overwhelming dread of what the day will bring: These are a few of a hung over person’s (least) favorite things.

But let’s not forget the shittiest of post-bender symptoms: a wicked case of the runs.

Diarrhea-like stomach trouble is a hallmark of overconsumption, but why is this the case? What does drinking have to do with getting the shits the next day? Luckily for us, Men’s Health is here with a primer.

According to gastroenterologist Andrew Black, M.D., heavy drinking creates a perfect storm of issues that can give you the runs. First, even a little bit of booze causes your stomach to begin secreting acid in large amounts, which can cause stomach inflammation. This inflammation can make your gut begin leaking fluids, which in turn prevents your stool from forming into solid clumps.

Secondly, the presence of alcohol—which is essentially a poison — tells your stomach muscles to get it out of your body as soon as possible, causing both the sensation of needing to hit the toilet ASAP, and also denying your intestines the time it needs to absorb all those excess fluids.

So now you’ve got shit headed at high speed to your bowels, which has been made liquid thanks to the stomach inflammation, and which hasn’t been given the time to have that fluid absorbed back into your body.

That’s the runs. That’s what that is.

Like most every other hangover symptom, the key to preventing booze-induced liquid dookies is to drink water between drinks. It might sound counterintuitive, but water will dilute the alcohol in your stomach, making that perfect storm of tummy trouble much less pronounced, and making it less necessary for you to spend your morning shitting your brains out.

A few other things we learned about our bodies today:

  • Organic food: Not as green as latte-sipping liberals from Los Feliz would like to think!
  • Not only are you overtired when you don’t get enough sleep, but your brain cells are, too.
  • A new technology currently being tested promises to be able to diagnose whether you have a disease by “sniffing” you.
  • Here’s something new to worry about: Additives in food are giving people allergies.
  • In today’s “no, duh” news, spending high school smoking a lot of pot and binge-drinking leaves burnouts more unprepared for the job market than their straight-edge classmates.