What is Alcoholic Gastritis? Causes and Treatment

What is Alcoholic Gastritis? Causes and Treatment

How does chronic alcohol misuse trigger alcoholic gastritis? Excessive alcohol consumption may lead to a severe hemorrhagic gastritis because of the irritation of the gastric mucosa. Furthermore, alcohol ingestion likewise results in decreased pepsin secretion and increased gastrin production, which could lead to gastric irritation.

At any one time 2.7 million Americans suffer from gastritis

  • In 2002-2003, 83,242 people were admitted to hospital in the U.K. with an episode of gastritis
  • In the 1980s, 730 Americans died as a result of gastritis
  • It is estimated that half of the world population has experienced some extent of gastritis at one point or another in their life

Gastropathy and gastritis are conditions that involve the stomach lining, otherwise known as the mucosa. In gastropathy, the mucosa is damaged, but mild to no inflammation is present. Meanwhile, in gastritis, the mucosa is inflamed.

These statistics illustrate the prevalence and potential seriousness of gastritis.

At the same time, this is a largely preventable and treatable disease. This is particularly true of gastritis caused by excessive and long term alcohol consumption. Stopping drinking or reducing your alcohol consumption is one way to lessen the symptoms.



“If you’re unsure whether alcohol may be a problem, speak with one of our supportive counselors. With many having first-hand experience they understand the struggle. The free chat is confidential & they are available 24/7.”

What is Alcoholic Gastritis?

Gastritis refers to a group of conditions that all have an impact with the lining of the stomach. Gastritis is a progressive and long term condition that often begins in childhood and continues as a person ages. Chronic gastritis is believed to be the most common long term illness known.

There are symptoms for gastritis that can be seen across the different illness that fall into this grouping. Symptoms include:

  • A burning ache or pain that can be described as indigestion
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting which may vary in color due to the gastritis
  • Feeling of fullness in the upper abdomen
  • Regurgitation of food after eating

Risk factors that are known to increase a person’s risk to develop gastritis would be the following:

  • A parasitic infection
  • Regular use of pain reliever such as aspirin and ibuprofen
  • Older age
  • Excessive and prolonged alcohol use
  • Excessive and chronic stress
  • Having an autoimmune disorder
  • Having other diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Chron’s Disease and a parasitic infection

If you recognize any of the symptoms above, it may be necessary to discuss them with your medical provider. So how do professionals diagnosis Gastritis? There are several options that your medical provider can choose from.

  • A test for parasitic infection
  • An Endoscopy which would examine your upper digestive tract. If a concerning area is found while this procedure is being done, a biopsy can be taken for further examination.
  • An X-ray of your upper digestive system after swallowing a solution that would allow your medical provider to examine your digestive tract.

After diagnosis, Chronic Gastritis can managed with medications as well as behavioral changes. The hope with most of the medications is that with its use, the stomach lining would have time to heal.

  • Antibiotics if there is a parasitic infection
  • Medications that block acid production
  • Medications that reduce the amount of acid produced
  • Medications that neutralize the acidity in stomach acid
  • Eat smaller meals and portions
  • Avoid eating foods that irritate your stomach
  • Avoid drinking alcohol
  • Change pain relievers taken

What is Alcoholic Gastritis?

As listed above, gastritis can be caused by many factors including long term and excessive alcohol abuse. Alcoholic gastritis is, as the name suggests, gastritis that is exclusively caused by excessive alcohol consumption. It is possible that a person has had gastritis and that their prolonged alcohol abuse exacerbated the irritation in their stomach.

Because the stomach wall of an alcoholic does not get respite from the irritating effects of alcohol, it is a common condition among those who abuse alcohol, be they alcoholic or not.

There are three stages of alcoholism; Early, Middle and Late. For further information about the Stages of alcoholism you can read the Alcoholism Stages page. Binge drinking can also lead to Alcoholic Gastritis. To understand the difference between heavy drinking and alcoholic drinking read drinking problems.

It is believed by most in the medical field, and supported by research,  that the use of pain relievers and excessive alcohol consumption are the most common triggers for gastritis.

What are the Symptoms of Gastritis Caused by Alcohol?

Every individual’s symptoms might vary. The most typical symptoms of gastritis include:

  • Stomach pain
  • Hiccups and belching
  • Abdominal bleeding
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Feeling of burning in your stomach
  • Appetite loss
  • Blood in your stool or vomit (an indication that your mucosa may be bleeding)

The symptoms are similar as those for other forms of Gastritis. For some alcoholics, their gastritis symptoms can be a stomach ache or other mild symptoms that occur after a night of heavy drinking. For others, it may be a more constant state of symptoms on a day-to-day basis.

A concern that medical professionals can have for alcoholics who have gastritis is that they could minimize their symptoms. This can lead to them not seeking medical attention and the condition progressing. There are several factors that could contribute to this. Someone may feel as though their symptoms are tolerable or that they are in denial that their alcohol use is a problem. Either way, mild gastritis symptoms can be a precursor for more serious conditions including:

  • The development of anemia
  • A tear in the mucus membrane from repeated vomiting
  • Upper GI bleeding
  • An Upper GI obstruction
  • Increase their risk for stomach cancer

It is important that you are honest with your doctor about you alcohol use as well as any adverse symptoms that you have. Excessive and prolonged alcohol use can lead to a variety of several serious health conditions.



How is Alcoholic Gastritis Diagnosed?

Diagnosing for Alcoholic Gastritis can be similar to other forms of Gastritis. The three options listed above may be used, depending on the individual.

It is possible for a physician to diagnose gastritis caused by alcohol by solely listening to the patient’s history. As noted earlier, Gastritis often begins occurring in childhood and there are symptoms that could have begun before the person started drinking. When the symptoms already present are impacted by excessive drinking, it will likely progress the illness.

Any physician who learns that a patient has a history of heavy and/or alcoholic drinking, and is presented with symptoms that suggest gastritis will find it hard not to make the connection. Especially since excessive and prolonged alcohol use is one of the leading causes for Gastritis.

If the gastritis symptoms persist even when the individual has stopped drinking, then a physician will usually perform an endoscopy. This is done to see if there are any other reasons for the abdominal pain.

Some people will also need a medical procedure called gastroscopy. During this procedure, the doctor will pass a flexible instrument with a light from your throat and into your stomach. With the help of this instrument, the doctor could inspect your stomach lining and take a small tissue sample to be analyzed in the laboratory.


Alcoholic Gastritis Treatments

When alcohol is the cause of gastritis, it is not much good to treat it with medicines. This is because drinking alcohol will continue to irritate and damage the stomach lining.

The only way to stop the symptoms of alcohol-induced gastritis is to either reduce your alcohol consumption or stop drinking altogether. Preferably, stopping all together. Stopping drinking would give your body the time to heal properly without being continuously damaged.

As a simple overview, here are different levels of care that may be appropriate:

  • Detoxification: This can be done on an inpatient or outpatient basis depending on a person’s level of risk for withdrawal. Being medically monitored can be necessary for individuals who are at a high risk for withdrawal symptoms.
  • Inpatient Treatment Programs: Inpatient programs often follow detox programs. They can vary in length for several reasons. The hope is that be participating in and completing an inpatient program, a person would have a better understanding of their addiction and how to have a healthy recovery.
  • Outpatient Treatment Programs: Outpatient programs tend to have a longer duration than Inpatient programs. Outpatient programs usually provide some education regarding the disease model of addiction, as well as how to live a healthier lifestyle without alcohol.

There are over-the-counter and prescription remedies for the temporary alleviation of gastritis symptoms such as nausea. But the important word here is ‘temporary’, the symptoms will always return if you continue to drink excessively.

Remember, you should never stop drinking alcohol without first consulting your physician/doctor. Alcohol withdrawal can be fatal if not medically supervised.

Prognosis for Alcoholic Gastritis

If you suffer from gastritis and continue to drink excessively then you will continually suffer from gastritis and it will get worse.

There will be continuous pain in your abdomen and a bloated feeling. Your stomach will become so sensitive that many foods/drinks (not just alcohol) will irritate it. It is also possible that more serious health concerns such as Ulcers.

The only way to prevent multiple outbreaks of gastritis occurring is to cut down on your drinking or, even better, to quit drinking.

Get the Help You Need

If you need help finding the right treatment programs to win the battle against alcoholism, there are treatment providers who can guide you to the right path. Contact one today.

“If you’re unsure whether alcohol may be a problem, speak with one of our supportive counselors. With many having first-hand experience they understand the struggle. The free chat is confidential & they are available 24/7.”

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