It’s no secret that alcohol can have serious long-term effects on your health, including stomach problems. While we’ve talked about the link between alcohol and Crohn’s disease, have you ever heard of alcoholic gastritis? This is one of the various complications that can occur as a result of alcohol abuse or chronic drinking. While it’s an uncommon condition, it’s more likely to occur in people who drink heavily over long periods. If this sounds like you, keep reading to learn about the signs and symptoms of alcoholic gastritis.
What Is Gastritis?
Gastritis is an inflammation, irritation, or erosion of the stomach lining and can occur suddenly (acute) or gradually (chronic). Generally, gastritis occurs when the stomach lining is irritated by factors like chronic vomiting, stress, and the use of certain medications or drugs. Alcohol can cause gastritis if consumed heavily for long periods, as well.
Acute alcoholic gastritis is temporary and usually marked by vomiting, a burning sensation when drinking, and stomach pain. However, because alcohol is a depressant and produces analgesic effects, heavy drinking can impair one’s judgment enough to where they don’t feel the symptoms of gastritis until they’ve sobered up the next day.
Chronic alcoholic gastritis is a long-term form of this condition that occurs when the mucosal layer or inner lining of the stomach is worn down. The breakdown of this lining occurs similarly to acute alcoholic gastritis but with more intense symptoms. However, people who drink heavily and regularly usually don’t notice the symptoms of alcohol-induced gastritis because drinking decreases their sensitivity to nausea and vomiting over time.
This can desensitize pain receptors. If left untreated, gastritis can lead to recurrent ulcers, internal bleeding, liver damage, pancreatic damage, and stomach cancer.
Long-term alcohol use can irritate and gradually wear down the inner lining of your stomach. The role of the stomach lining is to secrete a strong hydrochloric acid that helps break down food in the stomach, which aids in digestion and other processes. When the lining is compromised, the risks range from upset stomach to internal abdominal bleeding.
Alcoholic Gastritis Symptoms & Signs
Many people who experience gastritis don’t get any symptoms. The severity of alcohol-induced gastritis can vary depending on how heavily and frequently the person drinks. Certain foods and medications can also further irritate the stomach lining and worsen symptoms. Gastritis is often confused for other ailments, which is why it often goes untreated.
Common alcoholic gastritis symptoms to look out for include:
- Abdominal pain
- A burning sensation in the stomach that gets better or worse after eating
- A constant pain between your navel and ribs
- Frequent belching and hiccuping
- Bloated or full feeling in the stomach that gets worse after eating
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- In cases when anemia co-occurs with gastritis, fatigue, and shortness of breath during exercise may also occur
- Internal abdominal bleeding
- Blood in feces or vomit, which may come from bleeding in the stomach lining
Alcoholic gastritis is a form of gastritis that’s specifically caused by heavy drinking or alcohol abuse. Often, in these cases, the individual may have an alcohol use disorder. This is a form of addiction in which a person is unable to control how much and how often they drink.
Regardless of its cause, however, it’s important to get help if you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above in yourself or a loved one. There are multiple risks of not getting treatment for gastritis, including:
- Anemia: this can occur from bleeding ulcers in the stomach lining
- Peptic ulcers: these painful sores can develop in the upper digestive tract
- Gastric polyps: cells in the stomach lining that clump together
- Stomach tumors: these may or may not be cancerous
Help for Alcohol Abuse
If your primary care physician believes you have gastritis, they might send you to a gastroenterologist (GI). A gastroenterologist will likely perform an endoscopy, a procedure in which a thin tube with a camera is inserted through the mouth into the stomach to look at the lining. A biopsy, blood tests, stool sample tests, and other screenings may also be performed to diagnose someone with gastritis.
Not only does gastritis itself require treatment, but in cases when a person is diagnosed with gastritis from alcohol abuse, further medical assistance may be necessary. Alcohol is a highly addictive substance that can lead to physical dependence if misused.
Fortunately, our Stuart, Florida treatment center offers both alcohol detox and addiction treatment that address the physical and psychological repercussions of alcohol abuse. Our team of specialists is equipped to help you or a loved one safely achieve sobriety and recover as much as possible from any drug-related ailments.
With the help of our intensive inpatient and residential programs, our therapists, counselors, and medical team can make your recovery goals achievable. To learn more about our addiction treatment in Stuart, call Banyan Treatment Center today at 888-280-4763.