Effects of Alcohol on the Stomach
Most alcohol drinkers have probably experienced some of the negative effects of alcohol on the stomach. If you’ve ever mixed different alcohols in a short period of time, or simply had one too many, you may have gotten quite ill. But this probably occurred due to heavy drinking – what about just light or moderate drinking? Can this harm your stomach as well?
Alcohol, like many other foods and drinks, tends to irritate the digestive system. Certain consumables make the stomach produce more acid that it should. This is known as gastritis, or inflammation of the stomach lining. If this occurs, short-term effects of alcohol on the stomach may also include:
- Stomach pain
- Acid reflux
- Indigestion (reduction in digestive enzymes)
- Gas and bloating
- Nausea and vomiting
Long-Term Effects of Alcohol on the Stomach
- Chronic acid reflux and indigestion
- Malabsorbtion of vitamins and nutrients (malnutrition)
- Symptoms mimicking irritable bowel syndrome
- Peptic ulcers (open sores in the stomach lining)
- Increased risk of stomach, pancreas, and colon cancer
How to Protect Yourself from Effects of Alcohol on the Stomach
If you must drink, stick to daily unit guidelines – that’s 1 beer, 1 glass of wine, or 1 ounce of liquor for women, and 2 each for men. Drink lots of water, and make sure to eat well.
However, if you have a preexisting stomach condition, any alcohol and trigger irritation. Some persons are more prone to acid reflux and indigestion.
Furthermore, taking pain medications for hangovers can further irritate the stomach – aspirin and ibuprofen are the biggest offenders. And taking acetaminophen is a big no-no, as drinking with this medicine can increase the risk of liver damage.
Also, if you have an alcoholism problem, you should seek professional help. Alcoholics can very rarely switch back to acceptable alcohol intake. That is, total abstinence is usually both recommended and necessary.