Stomach Pain After Drinking Alcohol
You have known you have depression for years, since your middle school days. Being bullied, going through puberty early, and being the awkward tall girl led you to a pretty low self-image. Not to mention you never seemed to lose your “baby fat,” leaving you tall and curvy at the same time. The bullying was harsh and frequent as you continued through middle school, which led to you turning to vices to cope at the young age of 13.
You continued to drink throughout your life, but as you reached your 30s, you found it was much harder to recover. Each night of binge drinking was met with an unbelievable hangover, and you would have stomach pains with nausea that would last all day into the evening. You had heard stories from your friends about how they can’t drink like they used to, but you never stopped. Why are you having such pain now? Is there something more serious going on?
In 2022, 35% of Hillsborough County high school students reported using alcohol, while 11.6% experienced at least one blackout. At Clean Recovery Centers, we understand that excessive alcohol use can go beyond just a simple hangover. Our three-phase approach to addiction treatment is able to address mental health as well as physical conditions caused by alcohol use disorder. Why does stomach pain after drinking alcohol occur? Let’s take a look into this further.
Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) And Stomach Pain
Most of us have experienced a hangover at some point in our lives. The familiar pain of a throbbing headache, dizziness even though you stopped drinking hours ago, and stomach pain that usually results in vomiting. Even the sight of food is enough to make your stomach toss and turn. This is because alcohol irritates the lining of the stomach and intestines. While typically hangover symptoms go away within a few hours (or for those beyond their 30s a whole day), there are conditions that alcohol can trigger that keep stomach pain hanging around. Those who are living with an alcohol use disorder are more prone to experiencing complications with the stomach and digestive system.
Stomach Ulcer From Alcohol
Alcohol irritates the stomach lining and can cause inflammation and weakening. The main way alcohol is absorbed is through linings in the digestive tract. When alcohol is consumed heavily, over time the weakening in the linings can break open. In the stomach, this is known as a peptic ulcer. Symptoms of a peptic ulcer include:
- Vomiting with the possible presence of blood
- Stomach pain
- Loss of appetite
Those who are already prone to stomach ulcers are recommended to drink only in moderation. Over-the-counter and prescription medications can be used to treat ulcers and taking preventative measures can help keep them at bay. However, if an ulcer is left untreated for too long or continues to come back after treatment, surgery is the next option.
Drug Interactions With Alcohol
Anytime you are taking medication prescribed by a doctor, it is important to always ask about possible interactions. Many drugs can have negative and severe side effects when mixed with alcohol – even as little as one drink. Common medications that should not be mixed with alcohol include:
- Allergy medicines such as Benadryl or Claritin
- Anti-anxiety medicines such as Xanax or Ativan
- Arthritis medications
- Many antidepressants especially monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
- High blood pressure and cholesterol medications
- Medications for nausea and motion sickness
- Pain relievers
The list of possible medications that interact with alcohol is extensive which is why it is always best to ask your doctor before drinking. Pain relievers, arthritis medications, and high cholesterol medications are most likely to cause stomach pain with alcohol and can increase the risk of serious complications.
Illicit substances can also cause adverse reactions when mixed with alcohol. Opioids and stimulants (cocaine, meth) already cause stomach and digestive problems on their own. When mixed with alcohol, the damage can become severe and be permanent. When bowel tissues die, they release toxins into the body. This is a life-threatening condition and medical attention is needed as soon as possible.
Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome And Gastrointestinal Symptoms
Withdrawal occurs when the body has become dependent on a substance and the person stops taking the substance. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome typically begins 6-8 hours after the last drink and peaks around 72 hours. Though alcohol withdrawal comes with many symptoms, the gastrointestinal symptoms can be the most uncomfortable. When the stomach and intestinal linings are inflamed, pain and cramping can make eating difficult. Bloating can make you feel full without eating a lot of food. It is important to eat a healthy and balanced diet during the withdrawal process. This will help the gastrointestinal system regulate while also providing nutrients your body needs to heal.
What Is Alcoholic Gastritis?
Gastritis refers to inflammation of the stomach lining. Alcoholic gastritis can be from short-term heavy drinking or long-term alcohol use disorder. As alcohol consumption continues, it can erode the stomach lining causing pain and irregularities. Those who only drink heavily on occasion are likely to recover fully from alcoholic gastritis. In those who have been managing an alcohol use disorder for years, the damage done to the stomach lining may not fully heal. It will require symptom management even after drinking has stopped.
Symptoms Of Alcoholic Gastritis
Alcoholic gastritis has many symptoms that can range in frequency and severity. The most common symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Constant pain
- Increased hiccups or burping
- Blood in stool or vomit
- Nausea and vomiting
It can be difficult to receive the proper nutrients to sustain your body when experiencing alcoholic gastritis. This can lead to anemia, malnourishment, and weakened muscles and bones. It is best to seek treatment if there are any signs of alcoholic gastritis.
How To Treat Stomach Pain From Drinking Alcohol
Stomach pain from alcohol consumption can occur during or after drinking. Alcohol is viewed as a toxin to the body, and signaling nausea and vomiting are the body’s defense mechanisms. To avoid these symptoms, drink moderately with food and also drink water between alcoholic beverages. In the event of a hangover, drink plenty of water or electrolyte drinks to restore hydration. Eat light foods like crackers and toast first before eating a full meal. Avoid spicy or acidic foods and drinks as this can further irritate the stomach. Drinks such as beer and wine are more likely to cause heartburn as they stimulate gastric acid secretion. Antacids can help with heartburn and indigestion.
Treating conditions such as ulcers and alcoholic gastritis will require more intervention. Medications may be needed from a doctor to help heal the stomach. Antibiotics, antacids, and histamine blockers can help with healing ulcers, controlling inflammation, and regulating acid production. If these conditions are left untreated and drinking continues, surgery may be the next step to repair damage. If the damage from alcoholic gastritis cannot be reversed, life-long management practices will need to be implemented.
Treatment For Alcoholism In Hillsborough County, FL
Experiencing stomach pain after managing an alcohol use disorder can be a sign that significant damage has occurred. The good news is there is hope and healing available through alcoholism treatment. Finding an alcohol detox that is equipped with both medical staff and licensed therapy providers is crucial to begin your recovery journey. With healthy coping strategy development, skill-building classes, and extensive therapy, you will be able to find the root causes of your addiction and work toward rediscovering yourself and your passions. Allowing your body to heal and nourish itself will make you feel like a whole new person, ready for what life has to offer.
If you or someone you love is managing an alcohol use disorder, it’s not too late to reach out. Clean Recovery Centers offers a full-spectrum treatment program that addresses all facets of addiction. We have an extensive wellness program that includes nutritional counseling, and we can guide you through what foods will help heal your gastrointestinal system from long-term alcohol use. Our dedicated and compassionate team is ready to lead you to your success in recovery. Call us today at (888) 330-2532 to learn more about our program offerings.