Alcoholic gastritis is characterized by inflammation, irritation, or erosion of the stomach lining. It can occur suddenly or gradually and cause heartburn, ulcers, and stomach upset exacerbated by alcohol consumption. For those battling alcohol abuse and alcoholic gastritis, treatment programs can help promote sobriety and alleviate or eliminate symptoms entirely.
Alcoholic gastritis is just one of the many health issues related to chronic, heavy alcohol use. Alcoholic gastritis occurs when alcohol damages the stomach lining and causes various unpleasant and painful symptoms ranging from abdominal pain to heartburn, nausea, and vomiting. Other symptoms may include gas, bloating, and reduced appetite.
Alcoholic gastritis does not always present immediate symptoms, but it can eat away at the body’s digestive tract over time. Prolonged alcohol abuse will continue to cause strain in the digestive tract and can lead to ulcers, bleeding, and general discomfort.
Causes of Alcoholic Gastritis
As an integral part of the digestive system, the stomach secretes acid and powerful enzymes that effectively break down food and other substances. Lining the stomach is a tissue known as a mucous membrane that protects other parts of the body from these potent compounds, keeping the process safely within the stomach. If this membrane becomes irritated, it can result in gastrointestinal problems.
Common stomach irritants include the following:
- Alcohol use
- High-fat diets
- Acid reflux
Any of the above irritants and many others, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, can contribute to alcoholic gastritis. The longer an individual drinks without addressing these symptoms, the more likely it will result in long-lasting or irreversible damage to the digestive system.
Types of Gastritis
There are two main types of gastritis: acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term). Both instances of gastritis damage the digestive tract and the stomach, although the acute type tends to be more symptomatic and painful than the chronic.
Acute gastritis is a sudden inflammation of the stomach lining that can present rapidly and painfully with a variety of severe complications.
Symptoms of acute gastritis can include the following:
- Upset stomach
- Gas and bloating
On the other hand, hand, chronic gastritis is a persistent and long-lasting condition when the stomach lining remains inflamed for a prolonged period. Over time, the stomach lining loses its protective function, and the acid it produces begins to eat away at the stomach lining. Symptoms can be mild or go unnoticed for a long time, making them less likely to be medically addressed than acute gastritis.
Common symptoms of chronic gastritis include the following:
- Mild upper abdominal pain
- Stomach irritation
- Loss of appetite
Alcoholic gastritis is a form of acute gastritis. Symptoms of alcoholic gastritis can occur immediately and cause instant stomach upset and irritability. Excessive amounts of alcohol can disrupt the digestive tract and cause stomach lining irritation.
When a person stops drinking alcohol for some time, stomach complications may improve, and normal function will likely return. Moreover, it goes without saying that drastically reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption altogether is the best way to relieve alcoholic gastritis symptoms. However, risk factors may make a person more prone to developing the disease and presenting with symptoms, including the following:
- Diets high in saturated/trans fat, oil, and preservatives
- Smoking tobacco
- Illicit drug use
- Long-term consumption of alcohol
- Certain autoimmune conditions
- Long-term use of medicines for acid reflux and/or indigestion
- Stressful lifestyle
Alcoholic Gastritis Complications
If appropriately assessed and treated, acute cases of alcoholic gastritis are rarely associated with concerning complications. However, individuals can experience severe issues from untreated chronic gastritis. If alcoholic gastritis is left unaddressed, it can lead to stomach ulcers and bleeding, otherwise known as erosive gastritis.
Symptoms of erosive gastritis include may include the following:
- Shortness of breath
- Blood in vomit
- Blood in stool
- Black or tar-like stools
Other potential long-term effects of chronic gastritis include anemia related to iron deficiency or internal bleeding, vitamin B-12 deficiency and related fatigue, and stomach tumors or polyps.
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, you are urged to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Treatment for Alcoholic Gastritis and Alcoholism
Alcoholism, when coupled with alcoholic gastritis, will likely produce more frequent flare-ups and unwanted symptoms. Ulcers, stomach upset, and other forms of digestive discomfort occur more frequently among heavy drinkers.
A person who struggles with these two conditions should find medical care to manage and treat alcoholic gastritis and alcohol addiction. Treating this as a co-occurring disorder within the same treatment program will increase the success rate of sobriety. If the alcoholic gastritis is not advanced, the symptoms should naturally dissipate when alcohol leaves the system.
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery centers offer extensive treatment facilities that include detox and rehab programs that provide a seamless transition from one stage of recovery to the next.
Persons who attend our treatment centers can benefit from the following evidence-based treatment methods, as well as others:
- Medical detox
- Behavioral therapy
- Individual counseling
- Family counseling
- Group support
- Dual diagnosis treatment
- Substance abuse education
- Health and wellness education
- Art and music therapy
- Aftercare planning