How Heavy Drinking Can Affect Your Stomach
It is well-documented that excessive alcohol use can affect your brain and your liver, but what about other vital organs such as the stomach? Gastritis is inflammation of the lining of the stomach that can be caused by several factors including heavy alcohol use.
Gastritis is painful and as documented by the Mayo Clinic can come on suddenly (acute gastritis) or over time (chronic gastritis). Untreated gastritis can lead to severe health problems including ulcers and a greater risk for cancer.
What Are the Symptoms of Gastritis?
While gastritis does not always cause symptoms in patients and may go away on its own, there are certain signs that the lining of the stomach is inflamed.
Signs of inflammation include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain in the upper abdomen
- “A feeling of fullness in your upper abdomen after eating.”
It is imperative that you seek medical treatment if you are in pain, particularly if there is a burning or gnawing pain that does not resolve within a week. Other signs that you have a more serious problem requiring immediate medical care include blood in the stool or vomiting blood.
How Does Alcohol Cause Gastritis?
According to the Mayo Clinic, excessive alcohol use can “irritate and erode” the stomach lining. The stomach lining protects the stomach from acid and digestive juices that can damage the stomach and cause pain.
What Are Other Causes of Gastritis?
Other causes of gastritis can include infection, pain relievers, stress, and disease. Age may also be a factor since the stomach lining can thin as a person gets older. If for any reason you suspect that you have gastritis, even if it was not caused directly by alcohol, you should likely still avoid alcohol until it resolves or is treated.