Throwing Up Blood After Drinking Potentially Life Threatening

Share Article

Nabin Sapkota, MD , a board certified internist and hospitalist treating critically ill patients in ICU, issues a new warning to alcoholics about the dangers of life threatening bleeding in patients with alcoholic liver disease.

Symptoms and diagnosis

Nebrasks doctor: Author of Symptoms and Diagnosis

Nabin Sapkota MD, a board certified physician in Nebraska, warns that death from exsanguination can happen fairly quickly in patients with esophageal varices from alcoholic liver cirrhosis. “Esophageal varices are swollen and engorged veins in the food pipe. Normally these veins carry blood smoothly from the food pipe down into the liver. The blood then passes through the liver and eventually goes into the general circulation. In chronic alcoholics with liver damage, the liver is scarred from multiple cycles of tissue damage and repair. These cirrhotic liver develop fibrous tissue that interfere with the normal blood flow. The end result is swelling and engorgement of the veins in the food pipe,” the Nebraska doctor explains. He adds, “When these engorged veins rupture, the rapid bleeding that ensues can kill the patient within a few hours without proper treatment.”

“When someone throws up blood after drinking, the possibility of this kind of catastrophic even must be considered. It is true that not all instances of throwing up blood after drinking are life threatening. Sometimes, vomiting blood after drinking can be from a simple tearing of the food pipe after excessive dry heaving. It is very difficult to make any judgement about the possible cause of bleeding when someone throws up blood after drinking. Only an experienced emergency department doctor can make that call after careful evaluation of the patient. It is, therefore, very important to rush that person to the ER as soon as possible. It may be too late to save the patient’s life if too much blood has been lost before getting the treatment.”

“This kind of bleeding can happen in people with liver cirrhosis from other causes such as hepatitis and genetic liver diseases. Alcoholics are more susceptible to bleeding as they frequently have nausea , vomiting and forceful dry heaving from drinking too much. These symptoms can also happen during a bad hangover. Alcoholics are generally more reluctant to seek help from doctors than people with cirrhosis from other causes. There is a lack of public awareness campaign about the dangers of life threatening bleeding in alcoholics. Based on internet search results on this topic, some people may even get the idea that it might even be normal to throw up small amounts of blood after drinking too much. This is not just wrong but is very misleading.”

Doctor Sapkota is asking for your help to raise public awareness about the dangers of throwing up blood after drinking. You can help him by sharing this message with people who drink excessive amounts of alcohol. “ When people learn about bleeding from esophageal varices, they not only seek help early if they throw up blood but also reconsider their drinking habits. When you look up for more information on the topic in the Internet, only trust information that is clearly written by a licensed healthcare provider. When you cannot identify the author of any health related information, simply do not take it seriously.”
Nabin Sapkota, MD, is a hospitalist with Inpatient Physician Associates of Columbus and a physician with the hospitalist program at Columbus Community Hospital. You can read about his new book project “Symptoms and Diagnosis” at


Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Nabin Sapkota, MD