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If you have stomach pain after drinking alcohol, you may have an inflamed gastric mucosa (stomach lining). This condition is known as gastritis.
Alcohol triggers gastritis pain when it comes into contact with an inflamed stomach lining. When alcohol causes gastritis, it’s known as alcohol gastritis.
Alcoholic gastritis symptoms include:
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Alcoholic gastritis occurs when alcohol use damages the stomach lining. This leaves the delicate lining vulnerable to other irritants such as spicy foods, smoke, or drugs.
Studies show that 100 percent of chronic drinkers are at a higher risk of gastritis.2,4
Symptoms of alcoholic gastritis might not occur immediately. However, they can worsen over time.
For example, when the inflamed mucosal tissue of the stomach lining erodes, an ulcer can form. Ulcers cause further pain, stomach bleeding, and discomfort.
The 2 main types of alcoholic gastritis are acute and chronic:
Acute gastritis occurs suddenly and is short-lived. In some cases, it’s more painful than chronic alcohol gastritis.
Diagnosing acute gastritis is difficult without a medical check-up. If you vomit blood, seek emergency care immediately.
Common symptoms include:
Chronic gastritis is when stomach inflammation lasts for a long time.3 The condition worsens as the stomach acids eat away the exposed stomach lining.
The symptoms of chronic alcohol gastritis are minimal compared to acute alcoholic gastritis. Therefore, people are less likely to address chronic alcohol gastritis.
Gastritis can be erosive if the stomach lining is worn and ulcerated. Exposing the tissue to acids and other irritants can cause bleeding.
There are plenty of factors that can increase the risk of alcoholic gastritis. Various conditions or substances can irritate and weaken your stomach lining.
Several factors put you at risk of alcoholic gastritis, including:
Below are additional reasons behind stomach pain after drinking:
Frequent, ongoing alcohol use can destroy the stomach mucosal lining. This can lead to painful open sores, also known as ulcers.
Ulcers can cause severe gastrointestinal tract (UGI) bleeding. They may also develop into gastric cancer.5
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic digestive system disorder. There are many causes of IBS, including auto-immune and hereditary.
IBS can be severe in some people with specific types and may require ongoing medical care and even surgery. However, it doesn’t usually cause severe symptoms and can be managed through lifestyle changes.6
For people with IBS, drinking alcohol can flare up symptoms such as:
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a digestive condition that affects the muscle between the stomach and esophagus.
If you have GERD, stomach acid flows back into the esophagus. This can cause irritation and pain that usually worsens when you drink alcohol
Pernicious anemia is caused by the stomach’s inability to absorb vitamin B12.7 The lack of enough intrinsic factor (IF) causes this.
The intrinsic factor is a special protein that binds with vitamin B-12 to enable absorption by the ileum.
Alcohol can be harsh to your stomach lining. It causes the stomach to produce more acid.
Drinking on an empty stomach can cause the alcohol to mix with stomach acids. When this happens, the stomach lining can become inflamed, causing pain and discomfort.
Occasional episodes of mild abdominal discomfort from stomach inflammation are normal. Usually, symptoms are short-lived and don’t require medical attention.
Call your doctor if your symptoms last for more than a week. If you’re vomiting blood or have black tarry/sticky stool, seek immediate medical attention.
There are multiple ways to diagnose alcoholic gastritis. Some methods include:
Alcoholic gastritis can pose complications, which include:
Alcoholic gastritis and alcoholism are different conditions and are treated differently.
However, they may occur together, and treatment options are similar:
Treatment for alcoholic gastritis depends on age, symptoms, and overall health.
The first and most important treatment for alcoholic gastritis is to stop drinking alcohol.
Continuing to drink alcohol will make gastritis worse and impede the healing process. Other options include:
To alleviate symptoms, your doctor may prescribe medications such as:
These medications can help eliminate bacteria that may cause or worsen gastritis.
For instance, the H. pylori kit treats H. Pylori bacteria, while Histamine (H2) blockers treat and reduce stomach acid production.9
Spicy foods and acidic drinks can irritate the stomach. Avoiding them will prevent the progression of and help manage the severe symptoms of gastritis.
In particular, stopping alcohol use is critical to prevent ongoing stomach irritation and damage.
In cases of severe stomach lining damage, you might need reparative surgery. Some ulcers or tumors require surgical care to repair or remove them.
Although it can take some time to heal, eventually, your stomach will. By staying fit and healthy, your stomach can recover.
Here are a few tips you can follow to help your stomach heal:
It’s essential to eat the right food and avoid harmful substances. Consuming certain foods and drugs can further irritate your stomach.
Here’s a list of things you should avoid:
Alcoholism increases the risk of gastritis and prevents healing. Symptoms of alcoholism include:
Treatments include the following:
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