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Causes and Symptoms of Alcoholic Gastritis

woman experiencing alcoholic gastritis

Alcoholic gastritis is one of the many health issues related to long-term alcohol use. Alcoholic gastritis is when alcohol damages the stomach lining and can cause a variety of symptoms from abdominal pain to vomiting.

Alcoholic gastritis may not always present immediate symptoms, but over time, it can eat away at the body’s digestive tract. Long-term alcohol use will continue to put a strain on the body that can lead to ulcers, bleeding, and overall discomfort. These gastrointestinal issues could cause one or all of the following symptoms: pain, burning, vomiting, gas, bloating, and little to no desire to eat.

Causes of Alcoholic Gastritis

As part of the digestive system, the stomach secretes acid and powerful enzymes to assist in breaking down food and other substances. To protect the rest of the body from these potent compounds, a membrane exists to keep the process within the stomach. If this membrane becomes irritated, it can cause gastritis.

There are several different causes of alcoholic gastritis, but the most common is chronic alcohol abuse. When alcohol is consumed, it irritates the stomach lining and can cause inflammation. This damage to the stomach lining can lead to a number of problems, including ulcers, bleeding, and pain.

Other potential causes of gastritis include infection (such as Helicobacter pylori), stress, certain medications (including aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), and autoimmune conditions.

Besides alcohol, common stomach irritants include:

  • Stress
  • Caffeine
  • Smoking
  • High-fat diets
  • Acid reflux
  • Aspirin
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

Any of the above irritants can trigger alcohol-related gastritis. The longer a person drinks without addressing alcohol gastritis symptoms, the more likely it can lead to permanent damage to the digestive system.

Types Of Gastritis

There are two main types of gastritis categories – acute and chronic. Both instances of gastritis cause damage to the digestive tract and the stomach, although one type is more symptomatic and painful than the other.

Acute gastritis refers to a sudden inflammation of the stomach lining. Acute gastritis can present quickly and be more painful than chronic gastritis and comes with a variety of serious complications.

Common symptoms of acute gastritis include:

  • Mild stomach upset
  • Ulcers
  • Stomach irritability
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Bloating and gas
  • Hemorrhage

Chronic gastritis is a persistent and long-term condition when the stomach lining remains inflamed for extended periods. With time, the stomach lining loses protective function, and the stomach acid eats away at the stomach lining. The symptoms can be minimal for a long time, making them less likely to be addressed than acute gastritis.

Common symptoms of alcoholic gastritis include:

  • Low-grade upper abdominal pain
  • Tiredness
  • Anemia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Stomach irritation

Risk Factors For Alcoholic Gastritis

Alcoholic gastritis is a type of acute gastritis. The symptoms of alcoholic gastritis can be immediate and cause instant stomach upset or irritability. Massive amounts of alcohol consumption can disrupt the digestive tract and cause stomach lining irritation.

When someone stops drinking alcohol for a period of time, stomach complications can improve and normal function returns. Eliminating alcohol is the best way to stop alcoholic gastritis symptoms. However, risk factors exist that make someone more prone to developing the disease or have problems preventing the symptoms.

Some risk factors for alcoholic gastritis include:

  • Diets high in fat, oil, preservatives, or saturated and trans fats
  • Smoking or illicit drug use
  • Long-term consumption of alcohol
  • Autoimmune conditions that weaken the body
  • Long-term use of medications for acid reflux and indigestion
  • Stressful lifestyle

Alcoholic Gastritis Complications

If properly assessed and treated, acute cases of alcoholic gastritis are rarely associated with complications. However, people can have serious health complications if they have severe or untreated chronic gastritis. If alcoholic gastritis is left untreated, it can lead to stomach ulcers and bleeding in the stomach (erosive gastritis).

Symptoms of erosive gastritis include:

  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Black or tar-like stools
  • Red blood in stool or vomit

Other possible complications of chronic gastritis include:

  • Anemia from iron deficiency
  • Anemia from internal bleeding
  • Lethargy from vitamin B-12 deficiency
  • Polyps or tumors in the stomach

If you or someone you know experiences any of these symptoms, seek medical attention right away.

Treatment For Alcoholic Gastritis And Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol use or addiction coupled with alcoholic gastritis will create more frequent flare-ups and symptoms. Ulcers, stomach upset, and digestive discomfort occur more frequently in heavy drinkers.

Someone who struggles with these two diseases should find medical care that can manage and treat both 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.

At Vertava Health, our extensive treatment facilities offer both detox and rehabilitation programs under the same roof to provide a seamless transition from one service to the next.

Patients who attend our treatment centers can benefit from some of the following treatment methodologies:

  • Medical detoxification
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
  • Medication-assisted therapy (MAT)
  • Dual diagnosis treatment
  • Alternative therapy
  • Wilderness therapy
  • Gender-specific therapy
  • Behavioral counseling
  • Group counseling

After following the proper alcohol addiction treatment, a person is encouraged to become involved in a continued aftercare program that includes therapy, support groups, and other forms of treatment and education as needed.

If you think you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol use or addiction and you want to talk to someone, we can help. Our certified addiction specialists can speak with you about your problem and help you find healthy ways to overcome it. Call us today at 844.470.0410.