Can Alcohol Cause Stomach Ulcers?
Experts estimate that 5%-10% of the population will develop stomach ulcers. Even though millions of people have ulcers, this medical condition remains widely misunderstood. For example, many people ask, Do certain foods cause ulcers? Others wonder, can alcohol cause stomach ulcers?
What Are Stomach Ulcers?
Stomach ulcers, which are also referred to as peptic ulcers, are sores or raw areas that occur in the lining of the stomach or the small intestine.
When an ulcer occurs in the lining of the stomach, it is described as a gastric ulcer. When it is located in the small intestine, it is classified as a duodenal ulcer.
Burning stomach pain is the most common indicator that a person has a peptic ulcer. Ulcers can be successfully treated with a variety of medications, though in certain extreme cases surgery may be required.
Can Alcohol Cause Stomach Ulcers?
Can alcohol cause stomach ulcers? Most experts say no.
The two most common causes of stomach ulcers are bacterial infections and the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs):
- The Helicobacter pylori (or H. pylori) bacterium is a prime cause of peptic ulcers. According to the Cleveland Clinic, 50%-75% of people throughout the world have this bacterium in their system – but for most people, it thankfully doesn’t cause any ill effects.
- The NSAID category includes aspirin and ibuprofen. Long-term use of these drugs, using them in greater amounts than recommended, or taking them in combination with certain other medications can lead to ulcers.
Heavy drinking can be a risk factor for ulcers, and continued alcohol abuse can exacerbate the symptoms of ulcers and prevent them from healing properly. However, the general medical consensus is that alcohol use is unlikely to be a direct cause of a peptic ulcer.
If alcohol can’t cause stomach ulcers, why is it considered to be a risk factor? The primary reason for this is that chronic alcohol abuse can lead to an inflammation in the lining of the stomach. This condition is known as gastritis. Having gastritis can be a precursor to developing a peptic ulcer.
How to Know if You Have a Stomach Ulcer?
Many people who have stomach ulcers don’t experience any symptoms, at least not at first. When symptoms do occur, they are likely to include the following:
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal bloating
- Quickly feeling full when eating
- Nausea and vomiting
- Excessive belching or burping
Some people experience more severe symptoms and/or complications from stomach ulcers. As reported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Issues (NIDDK), which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), these symptoms and complications can include the following:
- Bloody, black, or tarry stool
- Blood in vomit
- Vomit that looks like coffee grounds
- Severe, sharp abdominal pain that occurs suddenly and doesn’t dissipate
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Elevated pulse
If you have a stomach ulcer and you keep drinking, the continued presence of alcohol in your stomach or lower intestine can irritate the ulcer. This can increase your risk for more intense suffering, as well as the development of symptoms or complications such as the ones listed above.
The NIDDK advises that anyone who has severe symptoms of an ulcer should get immediate medical attention.
What To Do if Drinking Alcohol Has Created an Ulcer?
Anyone who develops an ulcer for any reason should stop drinking alcohol. As we noted in the previous two sections, continued alcohol use can make ulcer symptoms more painful, cause the ulcer to worsen, and prevent healing.
If you have been living with alcohol use disorder (which is the clinical term for alcoholism), it may not be easy to quit drinking. But it is still necessary. In this case, getting professional care from an alcohol addiction treatment center may be the ideal choice.
Treatment for compulsive alcohol abuse can take many forms, including detoxification, inpatient rehab, and outpatient programming.
Detox can help you get through alcohol withdrawal safely and with as little discomfort as possible. During inpatient and outpatient care, you can begin to understand the issues that may have contributed to your alcohol abuse, while also developing the skills that will support your successful recovery.
Depending on the severity of your symptoms and which level of care you are in, customized treatment for alcohol addiction may include elements such as the following:
- Individual, group, and family therapy
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
- Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR)
Contact Our Alcohol Addiction Treatment Center in Los Angeles, CA
It’s important to realize that there’s no single path to recovery that’s right for every person. When you’re looking for addiction treatment, focus on finding a provider whose services and treatment philosophy align with your needs and goals.
Worsening stomach ulcers are just one of the many negative effects that can result from untreated alcohol addiction. The longer you remain trapped in the downward spiral of alcoholism, the greater your risk becomes for devastating physical, psychological, and social consequences.
But when you choose Sanctuary Treatment Center, you can stop drinking and start living a much healthier and more hopeful life. At our alcohol addiction treatment center in Los Angeles, California, you will receive customized services and comprehensive support from a team of highly skilled professionals. With our help, you can build a solid foundation for successful, long-term recovery.
When you’re ready to get started, the Sanctuary team is here for you. To learn more or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Contact Us page or call us today.