Alcohol-Induced Gastritis: Signs, Symptoms & Treatment
Alcohol-induced gastritis, which stems from inflammation in the stomach lining, can constitute a medical emergency, especially if it’s accompanied by GI bleeding. You should seek medical attention right away if you’re experiencing vomiting, severe diarrhea, or intense pain.
Excessive alcohol consumption can damage your stomach lining, especially if you are a chronic drinker or if you tend to drink on an empty stomach.
“Gastritis” is a general term used to describe inflammation of the stomach lining. Alcoholic gastritis is a specific type of gastritis caused by alcohol consumption.
Here’s what you need to know about alcoholic gastritis, how it’s diagnosed, and how you can treat or prevent it.
If you or someone you love is drinking too much and needs immediate help, please don’t hesitate to call our helpline at (855) 430-9439 or any of the available alcohol hotlines. Zinnia Health offers treatment for alcohol abuse to help individuals overcome addiction and get on the path to living a long, fulfilling life. Ready to learn more? Contact us and get answers to your questions.
What is Alcoholic Gastritis?
When you drink a lot of alcohol, or you drink on an empty stomach, your stomach lining is vulnerable. Drinking alcohol leads to the release of digestive acids and, in high quantities, these acids can cause the lining of your stomach to inflame and swell.
One big night of drinking can lead to your stomach lining becoming inflamed, and that’s generally not a concern. However, chronic drinking or drinking on an empty stomach can damage the stomach lining, leading to alcoholic gastritis.
Gastritis can also be caused or exacerbated by a variety of other factors. For instance, if you eat a lot of spicy foods, you’re more likely to suffer from gastritis. If you combine irritants like spicy foods, smoking, stress, or certain autoimmune diseases with alcohol consumption, you’re putting yourself at a greater risk of developing gastritis.
Symptoms of Alcoholic Gastritis
If you experience indigestion after drinking alcohol, that could be an early sign of alcoholic gastritis. Some people don’t experience many symptoms at all, but that doesn’t mean your stomach isn’t being damaged.
The most common signs of alcoholic gastritis include:
- A burning ache in your stomach
- Bouts of hiccuping
- Bloating or the sensation of feeling full
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blood in your stool
Many people describe the feeling of alcohol-induced gastritis as a “gnawing” feeling in their abdomen. Heavy drinkers are also more likely to suffer from anemia, a condition characterized by too few red blood cells, and the combination of anemia and gastritis will likely make you feel very fatigued and suffer from shortness of breath.
Are you worried about alcohol addiction? Zinnia Health can help. Our team of addiction specialists can answer your questions on substance abuse and alcohol use. If you’re ready to take the next step, call our helpline at (855) 430-9439 for more information.
Diagnosing Alcoholic Gastritis
If you’re experiencing symptoms of alcoholic gastritis, a quick conversation with your doctor may be all it takes to get on the path to a proper diagnosis.
After discussing your drinking habits, your doctor can help you determine if you tend to participate in heavy drinking or binge drinking. Heavy drinking is characterized by having more than 8 drinks per week whereas binge drinking is characterized by having more than 5 drinks in a single sitting.
In either case, if you drink a lot, you are at an increased risk of alcohol-related gastritis and your doctor will likely order additional tests.
Some of the ways that the health of your gastrointestinal tract can be assessed include:
- Blood tests can reveal elevated levels of the bacteria that cause gastritis and they can also reveal anemia
- A stool test allows doctors to check your feces are checked for blood and the bacteria that cause gastritis
- A breath test will also check for the bacteria that cause gastritis
- X-rays of your GI system can show signs of gastritis, allowing doctors to inspect your esophagus all the way down to your stomach and duodenum, which is the upper part of your small intestine
- An upper endoscopy may also be used, which involves inserting a small tube down your throat to visually inspect your esophagus, stomach, and duodenum
One of the most worrying symptoms of alcoholic gastritis is gastrointestinal bleeding, but don’t wait for your habits to become that severe. Seeking alcoholic gastritis treatment early can help protect your health.
Treatment Options for Alcoholic Gastritis
Chronic gastritis needs to be addressed swiftly to help prevent further damage to your digestive tract. Usually, if your gastritis is related to alcohol consumption, your doctor will advise you to cut back or stop drinking altogether, at least until your GI health is under control.
If you can remove the cause of gastritis, it may resolve fully. However, your age and general health will factor into your treatment plan. In many cases, your doctor will prescribe a temporary medication to ease common symptoms and help your stomach get back to normal.
The most common medications used to treat gastritis include:
- Antibiotics, which kill the bacteria that cause gastritis
- Antacids, which reduce the acidity in your stomach
- Histamine blockers may also be used, if you don’t respond well to antacids, which reduce the amount of acid your stomach produces
If you’re suffering from reflux and/or stomach ulcers, your doctor may prescribe proton pump inhibitors, which can treat these conditions.
Long-Term Effects of Alcoholic Gastritis
If you wait until you’re experiencing GI bleeding before you get treatment for gastritis, you’ll likely have a longer recovery period. GI bleeding is a serious concern and it can be associated with more severe complications.
Generally, gastritis and ulcers are completely treatable. However, if you are experiencing bleeding, it could be a sign of a torn blood vessel or that an ulceration has developed in your duodenum or stomach.
If GI bleeding isn’t controlled and stopped, it can be lethal.
Additionally, if your stomach lining is damaged to the point where it has perforated and digestive acids are being released into your abdominal cavity, that poses a far more serious condition.
Gastritis can also be associated with potentially life-threatening complications like sepsis, multi-organ failure, and generalized peritonitis. For these reasons, it’s essential that you talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any symptoms of gastritis.
How Zinnia Health Can Help With Alcoholic Gastritis
If you drink a lot, a little bit of indigestion here and there may not seem like such a big deal, but ignoring the signs of a bigger underlying problem can lead to serious consequences.
At Zinnia Health, we believe in making addiction treatment personalized, confidential, and accessible to everyone because we know that alcohol use disorder can feel impossible to overcome on your own.
In addition to alcohol treatment, we offer extensive counseling, advanced therapies, ongoing support, and a safe environment where you can get the help you need.