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Alcoholic Gastritis: Causes, Symptoms, Triggers & Treatment

What is Alcoholic Gastritis?

Gastritis is a condition that results when the stomach lining is inflamed. This inflammation can be caused by several factors, including infection, injury, or exposure to certain substances. One of the most common causes of gastritis is excessive alcohol consumption.1

Alcoholic gastritis is the condition in which the lining of the stomach becomes inflamed due to a high intake of alcohol.1 The stomach is irritated by alcohol, which by nature is a toxin, leading to gastritis. Drinking alcohol frequently causes the stomach to be constantly irritated, preventing it from recovering properly, damaging its lining (mucosa) permanently.2

Heavy drinkers are more likely to suffer from gastritis.3 This condition can lead to not only unpleasant symptoms including abdominal pain or bloating, but lead to an increased risk of cancer.4

How Does Alcohol Cause Gastritis?

There are a few different ways that alcohol can cause gastritis. One is by irritating the lining of the stomach, which can lead to inflammation. This can happen if you drink too much alcohol or if you have a sensitivity to it.2

Another way that alcohol can cause gastritis is by damaging the blood vessels in the stomach, which can lead to bleeding. Lastly, alcohol can also increase the amount of acid in the stomach, which can further irritate the lining and cause gastritis.2

If you have any of the risk factors including family history of gastritis or are suffering from alcoholic gastritis, it’s important to limit your alcohol consumption or avoid it altogether to prevent gastritis.2

What are the Common Symptoms of Alcoholic Gastritis?

The most common symptom of alcoholic gastritis is abdominal pain. This pain is usually felt in the upper abdomen, and it can be either dull or sharp. Other symptoms of alcoholic gastritis include bloating, indigestion, hiccups, lack of appetite, and nausea or vomiting. If you experience any of these symptoms after drinking alcohol, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible.2,4,5 

In acute alcoholic gastritis, the onset of symptoms is quick but so is the gastritis recovery time. However, for chronic gastritis due to alcohol consumption, these symptoms can last for years and cause daily discomfort.5

Left untreated, alcoholic gastritis can lead to more serious problems such as ulcers, bleeding, and perforation of the stomach. If you have any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical help.

What are the Effects of Alcohol Induced Gastritis?

Short-term effects of alcoholic gastritis can include, but are not limited to: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. These symptoms can often lead to dehydration and a loss of electrolytes. If left untreated, this can also lead to long-term health problems such as liver damage and pancreatitis.2

Long-term effects of alcohol induced gastritis can include, but are not limited to: malabsorption, weight loss, and an increased risk for developing cancer of the esophagus or stomach. Other long-term effects may also include:2

  • Mucosal injury due to a disturbance of the hormonal balance and microcirculation.
  • Disrupted secretion and stomach lining permeability, meaning substances that would not normally pass to the bloodstream can now do so.
  • Anemia, ulcers, and a variety of other conditions may result from gastrointestinal bleeding.

Individuals who are heavy drinkers have increased incidences of gastritis and are at an increased risk for developing cancers in the gastrointestinal tract. Esophageal cancer is especially common in those that drink excessively. In fact, the risk of developing this type of cancer is ten times higher for heavy beer drinkers.4

Can You Reverse the Effects of Alcohol Induced Gastritis?

There are ways to help reverse  the effects of alcohol induced gastritis. These include modifying your diet and supplementing with micronutrients.6 

One of the best ways to help reverse the effects of alcohol induced gastritis is to change your diet. Specifically, you should aim to eat more foods that are high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. These include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. You should also try to avoid foods that are known to trigger gastritis, such as spicy or acidic foods.6

In addition to changing your diet, you may also want to consider supplementing with micronutrients to promote gastritis recovery. Several studies suggest low vitamin D levels may exacerbate alcohol’s negative effects on gut barrier health. Therefore, supplementing with vitamin D may help mitigate the effects alcohol has on the stomach lining.6

While there is no cure for alcohol induced gastritis, making these lifestyle changes can help to reverse the effects of this condition and improve your overall health.6

What is the Most Effective Alcoholic Gastritis Treatment?

If you’re suffering from alcoholic gastritis, it’s important to seek medical treatment immediately. In some cases, the condition can be reversed with lifestyle changes and medications. Here are a few things you can do to reverse the effects of alcoholic gastritis:7

  • Quit drinking alcohol altogether. This is the most important thing you can do to reverse the effects of alcoholic gastritis. If you continue to drink alcohol, you’ll only aggravate your condition and increase your risk of developing more serious health problems.2
  • Eat a healthy diet. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can help to heal the lining of your stomach and reduce inflammation.
  • Take antacids. Over-the-counter antacids can help to neutralize the acid in your stomach and provide relief from symptoms of alcoholic gastritis.
  • Reduce stress. Stress can make the symptoms of gastritis worse, so it’s important to find ways to relax and reduce stress in your life.
  • Get plenty of rest. Getting enough sleep helps your body to heal and repair itself.

Quitting alcohol is the most important step in treating alcohol induced gastritis. When you stop drinking, you give your body time to heal and reverse the damage that has been done. In addition, quitting alcohol can help improve your overall health and reduce your risk of developing other health problems.2

When a person stops drinking alcohol, they may suffer withdrawal effects depending on how severe their alcohol abuse was. There is a wide range of intensity to these symptoms, ranging from unpleasant, like insomnia or sweating, to life-threatening conditions such as delirium tremens. It may be necessary to provide 24-hour care at a local center to some patients following an initial assessment. Both treatment and the initial intake process are quick, simple and completely confidential. They can then detox safely using FDA-approved treatments for alcohol abuse and move on to the next stage of rehabilitation until they are fully recovered.8

How Is Alcoholic Gastritis Diagnosed?

In order to diagnose chronic gastritis due to alcohol abuse, physicians use a variety of tests and exams, such as:7

  • Examining your medical history:  Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and the duration of time you’ve been experiencing them and determine the relationship between your gastritis and alcohol.
  • Performing a physical exam: Your doctor will check for signs of anemia, such as pale skin, rapid heartbeat, and shortness of breath.
  • Stool tests: These tests check for blood in your stool, which can be a sign of gastritis.
  • Endoscopy: This procedure involves inserting a camera down your throat and into your stomach. It’s used to check for ulcers or bleeding.
  • Blood tests: Blood tests can be used to check for anemia or infection.
  • X-rays: X-rays may be taken to check for ulcers or blockages in the digestive tract.
  • Urea breath test: This test is used to check for H. pylori infection.

If you have any of the symptoms of alcoholic gastritis, be sure to see your doctor. They can help determine the cause and develop a treatment plan.7

How to Cure Gastritis and Alcoholism?

If you are looking for a way to treat alcohol induced gastritis at its core, American Addiction Centers’ facilities are well-equipped to provide treatment for people dealing with alcohol addiction alongside other medical conditions such as alcoholic gastritis. They have the staff and resources to provide comprehensive care for patients with co-occurring disorders. In addition, they can help patients develop and implement a treatment plan that meets their individual needs.9

AAC facilities understand that addiction is a complex disease and that each person experiences it differently. They tailor their treatment programs to meet the unique treatment needs of each patient. In addition, they provide a variety of services that can help people overcome their addiction and live a sober, healthy life, including inpatient alcohol treatment, as well as outpatient treatment programs, specialized services like couples alcohol treatment and expedited, same-day treatment admission.9

Many people hesitate to seek treatment for alcohol addiction because they are worried about the cost. AAC facilities understand this and offer a variety of payment plans such as sliding scale fees and private payment plans to make treatment financing affordable and available for everyone. They also work with most major insurance providers, so insurance verification is quick and easy. In most cases, private insurance companies will cover the treatment for alcohol and other substance use disorders.10

If you are interested in seeking treatment for alcohol addiction, please contact an AAC facility in your area. They will be happy to answer any questions via a confidential hotline you have and help you get started on the road to recovery.

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