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Alcohol Abuse and Stomach Pain? It's Probably Gastritis

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If you are a heavy drinker that also suffers from frequent stomach pain, nausea or indigestion - you likely have gastritis, and relief of your symptoms will not be found through medications, but rather from the simple abstainment from alcohol.

Gastritis is a condition where the mucus like walls of the stomach have been irritated to the point that they are inflamed and in some cases are bleeding.

Gastritis can be both acute and chronic, and the symptoms tend to vary depending on the duration of the condition. In the acute phases (which can be induced by a single drinking binge) the symptoms tend to include pain or a gnawing feeling in the stomach, and nausea or vomiting.

Some of the symptoms of gastritis include:

  • Stomach pain (an ache or a dull pain)
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Loss of appetite
  • A burning sensation in the stomach

In the chronic phase, the pain tends to be ever present but dull, and the other symptoms can include a loss of appetite and bloated feelings.

Alcohol is an irritant, as are coffee and cigarettes. Certain medications such as aspirin and non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen may also cause gastritis. In general, social drinking will not cause gastritis – a large quantity of alcohol, acutely or chronically, is needed to cause the inflammation of the stomach lining.

Other causes can include bacterial infections in the stomach.


For most heavy drinking patients with gastritis, the elimination of alcohol from the diet will cure the disorder. No alcohol in the stomach means no continuing irritation of the stomach lining, and a gradual healing. Gastritis alone is rarely a serious condition.

If the elimination of alcohol does not better symptoms, alternate causes must be investigated, and certain medications may be prescribed to control stomach acid.

In all cases, chronic or severe stomach pain mandates a trip to the doctor, to eliminate more serious conditions that may also cause these symptoms.

A Wake up Call

If heavy drinking has caused your gastritis, especially if it includes bleeding in the stomach, then you must stop drinking. There can be no rationalization of any continuing consumption of alcohol while symptoms persist.

Anyone who continues to drink alcohol despite knowing that their alcohol use is causing them physical harm meets one of the primary diagnostic criteria for alcohol abuse or addiction.

If the drinking is making you sick – and you still drink, then you have to realize that you have a problem.

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Page last updated 28/09/2015

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